UPDATES WITH NUMBER OF VILLAGES LIBERATED
By Levent Tok and Omer Koparan
AZAZ, Syria/ANKARA, Turkey (AA) - The Turkish Armed Forces and Free Syrian Army (FSA) on Tuesday liberated three more villages from YPG/PKK-Daesh terrorists as part of the Operation Olive Branch in northwestern Syrian region of Afrin.
Turkey-backed FSA forces cleared the Zaytuna village in Sharan district located in the northeastern part of Afrin, Anadolu Agency’s correspondents on the field reported.
In Bulbul district located in the northern part of Afrin, the forces also cleared Hayyam and Surain villages from the terrorist organization, said the sources on the ground.
Since the launch of the operation on Jan. 20, Turkish military and the FSA liberated 81 targets -- including one center of a district --, 55 villages, 20 strategic mountains and hills and 1 YPG/PKK-Daesh base.
Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to remove YPG/PKK-Daesh terrorists from Afrin.
According to Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkish borders and the region as well as to protect the Syrian people from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.
The operation is 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 for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.
The military has also said that only terrorist targets are being destroyed and "utmost importance" is being given to not harm 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 putting up a fight.