Turkish forces pressing ahead after surrounding Afrin city center: Erdoğan
ANKARA / AFRIN
“Entering the city center is imminent. Afrin is under a Turkish siege,” Erdoğan said in a speech in Ankara.
The president also said an area extending to 815 square kilometers has been “made safe.”
“The entire [area] is 2,000 square kilometer. We will take the entire area under control in the first phase and send our brothers from Afrin back to their lands,” he added.
The joint forces carrying out a military operation against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) captured the village of Hallubi Kabir in Afrin’s northeast and took control of a dam that provides water to Azaz and Afrin, state-run Anadolu Agency has reported, citing correspondents on the ground.
However, the western part of the dam is still under YPG control, the agency reported.
The dam, known as the April 17 Dam, is the only source that provides clean water and electricity to Afrin.
Since the beginning of the operation, the Turkish military and the Free Syrian Army have liberated 161 locations, including five town centers, 124 villages and 31 strategic areas, according to officials.
On March 8, Turkish forces and their Syrian rebel allies seized control of the town of Jinderes, state media reported, giving them control of one of the largest settlements in the Afrin district.
In his speech on March 9, Erdoğan also stated that 3,171 YPG militants have been “neutralized” since the beginning of “Operation Olive Branch” on Jan. 20.
The Turkish authorities often use the word “neutralized” in statements to imply that the militants in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.