Turkish forces capture five more villages in Afrin
ANKARA / IDLIB
The Turkish military captured five more villages controlled by the People’s Protection Units (YPG) on Feb. 9 as part of “Operation Olive Branch” being carried out with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) after Turkey resumed air strikes following a six-day break.
The villages of Nesriyya, Dukkan, Iskan and Juqali Fawqani in the Jandaris region as well as the Orta Cakalli village in the town of Shaykh al-Hadid, western Afrin, were captured from the YPG, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
Anadolu Agency said F-16 jets resumed their aerial bombing campaign late Feb. 8, striking the northwestern enclave’s Mount Bafilun, the villages of Sheik Huruz and Kefer Jenne and the regions of Sheran, Jinderes and Raju, among other targets.
Ankara had halted air strikes as Russia worked on its air defense system after one of its warplanes were shot down by Syrian rebels in Idlib province on Feb. 3.
In a statement the military said the Turkish Armed Forces had destroyed 19 targets and “neutralized” 34 more YPG militants in overnight airstrikes on Feb. 9.
At least 1,026 YPG militants have been “neutralized” since the beginning of “Operation Olive Branch,” the military announced in a separate statement on Feb. 9.
Turkish authorities often use the word “neutralized” in their statements to imply the militants in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.
Since the operation began, Turkish forces and the FSA have captured a total of 46 zones, including 29 villages and 13 strategic mountains and hills from the YPG.
Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and other top commanders inspected the ongoing “Operation Olive Branch” from an airborne warning and control plane, the Turkish General Staff said in a statement on Feb. 9.
The military said one soldier was killed in “Operation Olive Branch” on Feb. 9.
Separately, one soldier was killed in a rocket attack by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the Çukurca district in the southeastern province of Hakkari on Feb. 9, media reports said.
Turkey on Jan. 20 launched “Operation Olive Branch” into Afrin to remove the YPG, which Ankara considers a terrorist group for its links to the PKK.