UPDATES WITH FOREIGN MINISTER CAVUSOGLU'S QUOTES AND CONTACTS HE MADE
By Nazli Yuzbasioglu
ANKARA (AA) - Turkish Foreign Ministry is keeping ambassadors from several countries in the region informed about Turkey’s ongoing Operation Olive Branch in Syria's Afrin, according to a Turkish diplomatic source on Sunday.
Ambassadors of Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have been invited to the ministry where Turkish Ambassador Sedat Onal will brief them about the operation, the source, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on talking to media, said.
On Saturday, envoys and mission chiefs of permanent members of United Nations' Security Council -- United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China as well as Iran -- were also invited to the ministry for a similar briefing.
Later Sunday, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu spoke with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian and briefed him about the ongoing operation.
Cavusoglu also talked to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson late Saturday.
Moreover, Turkish authorities informed the Syrian regime about Operation Olive Branch, Foreign Minister Cavusoglu said on Saturday.
"We have informed [the regime in Syria] through a written note," Cavusolgu told Turkish NTV broadcaster during a live interview.
"This does not mean that we have taken permission from them. We have sent such a note because we are acting in accordance with the international law."
This was not the first time Turkey sent a note, the foreign minister said, and added that a similar statement was sent to the regime during the Euphrates Shield Operation in Syria in 2016.
The operation -- aimed at eliminating PYD/PKK and Daesh elements from Syria's Afrin -- was launched at 5 p.m. (GMT1400) on Saturday. It was being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council’s decisions, self-defense rights under the UN charter and respect to Syria's territorial integrity, the military added.
Afrin has been a major hideout for the PYD/PKK since July 2012 when the Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without putting up a fight.
The Turkish cities of Kilis and Hatay across the Syrian border are within the firing range of the PYD/PKK group from Afrin, which sits atop a hill. The terror group has also used Amanos Mountains to penetrate from Syria into Turkey.
The PYD/PKK depends on Afrin to connect to the Mediterranean from northwestern Syria. The terrorist organization has also threatened the gains made from Operations Euphrates Shield and Idlib de-escalation zone over Afrin. A quarter of Syria land and 65 percent of Turkey-Syria border are currently under occupation of the terrorist organization.
Operation Euphrates Shield began in August 2016 and ended in late March 2017 to improve security, support coalition forces and eliminate the terror threat along the Turkish border.