Turkish troops, Free Syrian Army clear another village

Turkish troops, Free Syrian Army clear another village

Operation Olive Branch in full force as Haj Bilal village near Shaykh al-Hadid town in western Afrin cleared of PYD/PKK

By Levent Tok, Said Ibicioglu and Omer Koparan

AZAZ, Syria (AA) - Turkish troops and Free Syrian Army (FSA) on Sunday liberated Haj Bilal village from PYD/PKK terrorists as part of Operation Olive Branch, Turkish security forces told Anadolu Agency.

The village is near Shaykh al-Hadid town in western Afrin district in northern Syria.

The liberated village marks the 32nd location that has been freed from terrorists since the beginning of Operation Olive Branch 16 days ago. A town center and 21 villages are among the locations liberated.

Earlier on Sunday, Turkish forces and FSA fighters liberated the Haruz hill in northern Afrin.

Turkey on Jan. 20 launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PYD/PKK and 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, the military said.

The military has also said that only terrorist targets are being destroyed and "utmost care" is being taken 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.

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