UPDATES WITH TWO MORE VILLAGES CLEARED, CHANGES HEADLINE
By Omer Koparan and Levent Tok
AZEZ, Syria (AA) - Turkish and Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces on Sunday liberated three villages from PYD/PKK terrorists in Afrin, northwestern Syria, according to correspondents on the ground.
Anadolu Agency reporters in the region said that the villages of upper and lower Hecika and Dervish Ubashi in Rajo, western Afrin were cleared of PYD/PKK terrorists as part of the ongoing Operation Olive Branch.
The villages put the total areas liberated from terrorists at 68, including 47 villages and 17 strategic mountains or hills.
Turkey on Jan. 20 launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin.
According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey's borders and the region as well as protect Syrians from terrorist cruelty and oppression.
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, it said.
The military has also said that only terrorist targets are being destroyed and the "utmost care" is being taken to avoid harming any civilians.
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 a fight.