Turkey reconnects opposition-held areas in northern Syria
IDLIB – Anadolu Agency
After Turkish and Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces cut off the access of People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants in Syria’s Afrin to the Turkish border, opposition-held areas in northern Syria were also connected in a crescent-shaped corridor on Feb. 26.
The village of Karmanluk in Shaykh al-Hadid, northwest of the city of Afrin, and the upper and lower parts of the village of Senare were cleared of YPG militants as part of Turkey’s “Operation Olive Branch” in Syria’s northwestern Afrin region on Feb. 26.
With the newly taken land, a crescent-shaped corridor stretching along the northwestern Idlib province and the Aleppo province’s Azaz district reconnected two areas held by Syrian opposition forces.
In February 2016, the connection between Idlib and northern Aleppo was cut after the Bashar al-Assad regime captured the Aleppo highway, which also goes to Turkey’s southeastern Kilis province, and another highway along the towns of Qabasin and Ratyan, north of Aleppo.
Turkey believes reconnecting the opposition-held Idlib and the area under FSA control backed by the Turkish army would also strengthen its border security.
Since the launch of the operation on Jan. 20, the Turkish military and the FSA have captured 115 locations, including one district center, 87 villages, 20 strategic mountains and hills, and one YPG base.
2,083 militants 'neutralized' in Afrin operation
A total of 2,083 YPG militants have been "neutralized" since the launch of “Operation Olive Branch” in Syria's northwestern Afrin region, the Turkish General Staff said in a statement on Feb. 27.
Turkish authorities often use the word "neutralized" in their statements to imply the militants in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.
Turkey launched “Operation Olive Branch” to remove YPG militants from Afrin.