Turkish forces launch operation against crime group in Syria's Afrin
Turkey’s Special Forces Command and units from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) launched a joint operation in the early hours of Nov. 18 against a crime group in the Syrian province of Afrin.
A curfew was imposed in the city as part of the security operation.
Sources in the city told state-run Anadolu Agency that the operation targeted the gang, known as Abu Havle.
The group, which is believed to have around 300 men, has been engaged in illegal activities such as burglary and extortion.
The criminal gang also reportedly disturbed peace and public order in the city.
Some members of the group exchanged fire during the operation with security forces that included Turkey’s elite Special Forces Command nicknamed the “Maroon Berets,” daily Hürriyet reported.
The operation was moving slowly as the group was using civilians as human shields at and around its headquarters.
Gang members were cornered in two locations in Afrin’s center, Anadolu Agency reported on Nov. 19.
On Jan. 20, Turkey launched “Operation Olive Branch” to remove YPG/PKK militants from Afrin.
On March 18, Turkish troops and the FSA took control of the Afrin district center.
Syria Task Force
Security in Afrin is being provided by a “Syria Task Force” affiliated with the Turkish Police Special Operations Department, Anadolu Agency reported on Nov. 15.
The Syria Task Force is comprised of 12 different teams from the Special Operations Departments from Turkey’s Ankara, Hatay and Gaziantep provinces.
The Syria Task Force is also participating in high-risk operations.
The nascent police organization, which was formed in accordance with the Turkish police, is composed of seven units specialized in counter-terrorism, intelligence, public order, traffic, crime-scene investigations and commandos.
Within this framework, Turkish police are providing training and guidance for the new police organization in Afrin.
Turkish police will also provide training for police units that will operate inside prisons that will soon be established in the district.
Special forces will also be deployed at the entrances and exits of highways and critical points in the region.
These special forces, with the approval of the local authorities, will personally engage in risky operations.
Within the past three months, several suicide attacks have been thwarted by special teams who have also destroyed more than 100 makeshift explosives left by the YPG/PKK group.
Moreover, the Syria Task Force will carry out joint operations with the Turkish Armed Forces and the Turkish intelligence apparatus when necessary.