Turkey has begun a land operation against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which it sees as a terrorist group for its links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), with troops crossing the border in cooperation with Syrian rebel groups.
“Our units have entered Afrin from two branches at 11:05 a.m. with the Free Syrian Army [FSA]. This means the land operation has begun,” Yıldırım told the editors of news outlets in a meeting in Istanbul.
The “Olive Branch Operation,” which came hours after a major air strike on the YPG on Jan. 20, will consist of four phases to create a safe zone with a depth of 30 kilometers, he added.
Turkey is also supporting the FSA advance with tanks and cross-border artillery fire.
The operation, which came hours after a major air strike on the YPG on Jan. 20, will consist of four phases to create a safe zone with a 30-kilometer depth, he said.
The first phase will be aimed at forming a secure zone on the Turkish borders between Azaz and Afrin, Yıldırım said, adding that following the first phase the “cleaning” would require an even more thorough work and “there was no need to rush.”
The Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing YPG are not the only groups in the operation area, Yıldırım claimed, pointing to the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) militants who were allowed to leave Raqqa under U.S. watch, referring to a BBC report.