Turkish army, FSA extend Afrin operation, 800 militants killed so far
AZAZ – Anadolu Agency
The Turkish Armed Forces and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) have extended their operation against the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria’s Afrin district, with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan saying that some 800 militants have so far been killed.
“Some 800 terrorists have been killed in Afrin [so far since the start of the operation]. Hopefully, this number will increase until the evening,” Erdoğan said on Feb. 1 at the Beştepe Culture and Congress Center in the Presidential Complex in Ankara.
Turkish forces and the FSA cleared one more village of the YPG on Feb. 1 during their operation in Afrin, state-run Anadolu Agency has reported.
Clearing the village of Ali Kar, located in the northern Bulbul district, led to full control of a large zone in Afrin’s north, together with the previously cleared village of Shenkal and the Zahran region.
On day 13 of “Operation Olive Branch,” 20 villages and 27 zones, including seven strategic mountains and hills, were cleared of the YPG, the agency said.
A day before, on the 12th day of the operation, the Turkish Armed Forces and the FSA cleared YPG militants from Mount Ain al-Batman in the northeast of Afrin in northern Syria on Jan. 31.
The mountain marks the 27th key location cleared of militants since the start of the operation.
Turkish security sources in the region told Anadolu Agency that the operation to clear the mountain had been launched in the afternoon.
Earlier in the day, the village of Bak Ubasi and Mount Kurni in the Bulbul area, north of Afrin, were also brought under control by Turkish soldiers and FSA fighters.
Turkey launched “Operation Olive Branch” against the YPG in Afrin on Jan. 20.
A total of 790 militants have been “neutralized” since the start of Turkey’s “Operation Olive Branch” in Syria, the General Staff stated early on Feb. 1, before Erdoğan updated the number to 800.
Turkish authorities often use the word “neutralized” in statements to imply that the militants in question have either surrendered or were killed or captured.
In the last 24 hours of the ongoing operation “78 PKK [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party], KCK [Kurdistan Communities Union], PYD/YPG [Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party/People’s Protection Units], and ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] terrorists were neutralized,” the army said in its statement.
The statement added that the Turkish Armed Forces destroyed 18 more “terrorist targets” in overnight airstrikes.
Rockets fired by YPG from Syria
Meanwhile, a rocket fired by the People’s Protection Units (YPG) from Syria hit Turkey’s border province of Kilis on Feb. 1.
The rocket, which landed on the city center, hit the outer wall of a building in the Ekrem Çetin neighborhood, according to a state-run Anadolu Agency correspondent on the ground.
Mehmet Baloğlu, the owner of the house, said he sensed the rocket strike while he was sleeping, but he didn’t know it hit his house.
Later, another rocket struck an office in the Barış neighborhood of Kilis.
No casualties were reported in the attacks.Separately, a rocket was disposed under enhanced security measures in the southern border province of Hatay.
It was among three rockets fired by the YPG that landed on a yard in the Reyhanlı district, but did not explode.