Police, gendarmerie forces join Turkey's Afrin operation: Security sources
Police and gendarmerie special forces have begun supporting Turkey’s ongoing “Operation Olive Branch” in rural areas of Afrin in northwest Syria, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on March 1, citing security sources.
Earlier this week, Turkey sent special forces personnel from police and gendarmerie to Afrin for taking part in the operation that the Turkish military says aims to clear the area from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants.
The special forces personnel, who are capable of carrying out joint operations and urban warfare, conducted search operations in villages taken from the YPG by the Turkish army and Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters, said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.
Some of the special forces units were also stationed in the villages in order to prevent YPG militants from infiltrating them.
In rural areas of Afrin, the special forces were also conducting 24-hour surveillance through night-vision binoculars, Anadolu Agency reported.
Police and gendarmerie special forces, some of which were stationed near the towns of Jinderes and Raju in Afrin, will undertake important duties during the operation in Afrin city center, which is expected to be launched in the coming days.
Both police and gendarmerie special forces had gained significant experiences of urban warfare during what Ankara dubs “counter-terrorism operations” in the southeastern Turkish cities of Silopi, Cizre, Idil, Yüksekova, Nusaybin and Şırnak in 2016, the report said.
Turkey launched the “Operation Olive Branch” along with elements of the FSA on Jan. 20 with the aim of clearing the border of YPG militants.
With around 500 square kilometers so far cleared of the YPG, Turkey on Feb. 26 announced that it will begin to besiege the city of Afrin, which is home to more than 100,000 civilians.
In line with this objective, Turkey has begun the deployment of the gendarmerie special forces, who are specially trained in urban warfare.