ADDS BINALI YILDIRIM'S REMARKS AND MORE DETAILS
By Ali Kemal Akan
ANKARA (AA) - Seven Turkish soldiers were martyred on Saturday during Operation Olive Branch, according to a Turkish General Staff statement.
The statement said one soldier was martyred in clashes with PKK/KCK/PYD-YPG and Daesh terror groups and the other in Turkey's Kilis province in an attack perpetrated by the same terror groups.
Later on Saturday, the Turkish General Staff said five more soldiers had been martyred in Sheikh Haruz, northeast of Afrin, when the terrorist group targeted a Turkish army tank.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim expressed his condolences in a statement on Twitter.
“They will pay for this twice as much. We have given the necessary response instantly, and we continue to do so,” Yildirim said.
Immediately after the attack at Sheikh Haruz, an air operation targeting terrorist shelters, hideouts and weapon emplacements in the area was launched at 5.52 p.m. local time (1452GMT).
Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 along with Free Syrian Army (FSA) to clear PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin, northwestern Syria.
Since the start of the operation, the PYD/PKK has carried out cross-border attacks on Turkey by firing rockets on civilian neighborhoods.
According to the Turkish General Staff, Operation Olive Branch aims to establish security and stability along Turkish borders and the region as well as to protect Syrians from terrorist oppression and cruelty.
The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN Charter, and respect for Syria's territorial integrity.