By S. Ahmet Aytac
ANKARA (AA) - Muslims from around the world prayed for Turkey’s success in Afrin operation during their Umrah pilgrimage in Mecca on Sunday.
Videos of the people praying in Mecca are being circulated on social media.
Prayers were also held across Turkey on Sunday. People gathered at 90,000 mosques in the country and prayed for Turkey's success in "Operation Olive Branch" in Afrin.
Ali Erbas, head of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate, also participated in the prayers at Ankara’s Haci Bayram mosque.
Turkey launched “Operation Olive Branch” on Saturday at 5 p.m.(1400GMT) in Syria’s northwestern Afrin region; the aim of the operation is to establish security and stability along Turkish borders and the region as well as to eliminate PKK/KCK/PYD-YPG and Daesh terror groups, and protect the Syrian people from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.
The operation is being conducted under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council’s decisions, especially no. 1624 (2005), 2170 (2014) and 2178 (2014) and as per the self-defense right under 51st item of the UN charter, while being respectful to Syria’s territorial integrity.
Turkey has long protested against the U.S. support for the PYD -- the Syrian offshoot of the terrorist PKK -- and its military wing the YPG.
Washington has called the terrorist group a "reliable ally" in its fight against Daesh in Syria even though its mother organization, the PKK, is listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the U.S., and the EU, having waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years, killing nearly 40,000 people.
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 also threatens Idlib deescalation zone over Afrin.
A quarter of Syria land and 65 percent of Turkey-Syria border is under occupation of the terrorist organization.