The Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and Free Syrian Army (FSA) early on Sunday liberated Afrin’s city center, which had been a major hideout for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)’s Syrian branch, the PYD, since 2012, as part of Operation Olive Branch.
Yeni Şafak and TVNET Editor-In-Chief İbrahim Karagül was among the crew that entered Afrin following its liberation. The commanders of the Sultan Murad Division and Hamza Division, which are units within the FSA, evaluated the developments in Afrin.
“Our first aim was to clear Jindaris. Jindaris was the first defense line of the PKK/YPD. Once we fought there and captured Afrın’s south, we advanced toward Afrin’s city center. The PKK/PYD did all they could to retake the hills we captured but we defended these lands as the Hamza Division,” said Seyf ab Bekir, the commander of the Hamza Division.
PKK’s armory decked with NATO weapons
An armory consisting of 13 chambers in line with NATO standards was unearthed in Afrin’s city center, which was captured by the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and Free Syrian Army (FSA) early on Sunday as part of Operation Olive Branch, which was launched on Jan. 20 to clear the area of YPG/PKK-Daesh terrorists.The TAF and FSA are continuing to detect the terrorist organization’s tunnel networks and armories. A giant armory located just outside Afrin on the skirts of a hill and covered in olive trees was spotted.Yeni Şafak daily obtained exclusive footage of the armory, which stowed advanced arms and munitions including TOW missiles, SUV-23 munitions, DShk heavy machine guns and mines.Built underground and of thick concrete walls, the armory was designed according to NATO standards. It is about 200 square meters in size and has 13 chambers. Trucks can easily enter.Ventilation vents are spread across the ceilings and there are cages that prevent birds from entering, in addition to reservoirs on the ground that collect rain water. The armory would require planning and engineering skills beyond that of a terrorist organization.Preparations for clashes targeting TurkeyYeni Şafak and TVNET Editor-In-Chief İbrahim Karagül was among the first journalists to enter the armory.“What we saw really surprised us. It is clear that the preparations being made were not to defend Afrin. This building was not prepared as an armory for the terror group, and it is proof that countries who back terror were preparing not only for Syria,” said Karagül about the armory. “Preparations for conflict within NATO were made. An important portion of military planning methods of NATO against Turkey, which is a NATO member, were implemented here. What we saw is proof that this preparation was against Turkey,” he added.Karagül also described the vast array of arms and munitions inside the armory.“For the first time, it is possible to see massive buildups [of arms and munitions] inside an armory that was viewed by a journalist. We saw advanced weapons including TOW missiles, SUV-23 munitions, DShk heavy machine guns and mines stashed away in hundreds of chests, barrels and cases,” said Karagül.Mostly U.S.-madeThe source of the millions of stashed bullets found in the armory can be traced to multiple countries, however the majority are made in the United States.“In addition to Russian weapons and ammunition, there are munitions that point to the Syrian regime and have text in Arabic on them. There are also Iranian guns and ammunitions stored in another chamber,” said Karagül.“This underground armory in no way holds the munitions of a terror group. Everything from the construction of the armory to the variety and type of the ammunition was prepared for a war between states,” he added.Terrorists fled“The two metal chests we saw were constructed in accordance with NATO standards, and the fuses inside were again protected in accordance with NATO standards. The extent of the international operation Turkey’s Afrin op dealt a blow to can be seen by looking at this underground armory,” said Karagül.“Afrin was going to be decked with an army of thousands and the greatest evidence of the arms and munitions shipments is this armory that spans underground like a metro line. Despite international support, the PKK/PYD and the forces among them fled and left behind their weapons without resisting the TAF and FSA,” he added.‘Terrorists flee Afrin without showing resistance’Afrin has been a major hideout for the PYD/PKK since July 2012, when the Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without putting up a fight.The U.S has supplied the PKK/PYD terror organization with more than 5,000 truckloads of weapons to allegedly use in the fight against Daesh, despite Ankara’s warnings that the group is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terror organization.The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and the United States. The PKK has been conducting armed violence in the southeastern part of Turkey since 1984. More than 40,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the three-decade long conflict.48 rockets hit Turkey's Kilis during Afrin operationPKK terror attack kills villager in eastern TurkeyTurkey: US can’t comprehend purpose of Afrin operation‘Turkey’s next step is to stabilize Syria’s Afrin’Turkish deputy PM slams US statement on Afrin operation
“The PYD/PKK started to use civilians as human shields. They used civilians to stay in Afrin, so we halted the operation for a few days. We planned for the exit of civilians and then took action,” he added.
The Hamza Division commander stated that the terror group had taken young girls and boys forcing them to take up arms.
Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch jointly with the FSA on Jan. 20 to clear terrorist groups from Afrin in northwestern Syria amid growing threats posed from the region.
US attempted to deceive Turkey in Syria, Erdoğan says
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, addressing his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party on Tuesday, slammed the latest statement by U.S. Secretary of State, in which Washington expressed its “deep concerns” about the situation in Syria’s Afrin, following the success of Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch in the northwestern Syrian region.“Washington says ‘we’re concerned’ about Afrin. Where were you when we told you about our concerns? Where were you when we said ‘Come, let’s clear this place from terror organizations?’ You said you were clearing Daesh when you were cooperating with a terror organization,” he saidOperation Olive Branch was initiated on Jan. 20 in Afrin to establish security and stability, eliminate PKK/KCK/PYD-YPG and Daesh terrorists, and save locals from their oppression and cruelty.“You say “you’re our strategic partner” and then you cooperate with terrorists. This is a fact. If you were our strategic partner, you would have respected us and coordinated with us. You then tried to deceive us. You sent over 5,000 truckloads of weapons, maybe more. You made 2,000 deliveries of munitions. We requested weapons from you [to buy] with money, but you refused. Yet, you sent these arms to a terror organization for free. What kind of partnership is this?” asked Erdoğan.Turkish troops go door to door, distributing aid to Afrin residentsPKK’s armory decked with NATO weaponsThe U.S has supplied the PYD terror organization with more than 5,000 truckloads of weapons to allegedly use in the fight against Daesh, despite Ankara’s warnings that the group is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terror organization.Video: Turkish soldiers distribute humanitarian aid to Afrin residentsErdoğan also revealed that 3,647 terrorists had been neutralized since the onset of Operation Olive Branch in Syria's Afrin.On Sunday, Turkish-backed troops liberated the town of Afrin, which had been a major hideout for the YPG/PKK since 2012.According to the Turkish General Staff, Operation Olive Branch has aimed to establish security and stability along Turkey's borders and the region as well as protect Syrians from the cruelty and oppression of terrorists.It is being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN Charter and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, the army said.Galeri: Turkish soldiers distribute food to local residents in Afrin
Villages captured one by one
“We started this operation from Bulbul. Bulbul, Jindaris, Rajo, Sheikh al-Hadid and Shallol are the most important settlements of the region. We captured these areas in the first days of the operation. We dealt critical blows to the PYD in the early days, and they had major losses in the first month,” said the Sultan Murad Division commander.
“We formed a new plan relying on the experience we gained from Operation Euphrates Shield. We advanced with a new force of 1,300 together with the TAF toward the Midanki Dam. In 20 days, we reached the door of the east of Afrin. The PYD lost all its strength. The villages were captured one by one,” he added.
A total of 3,647 terrorists have so far been neutralized in the operation. The commander also divulged details regarding the entry into the Afrin town center.
“Another unit made its way toward us from the east. We waited nearly a week. There were many civilians inside. They started releasing civilians in the last week. We took those civilians and relocated them to border locations. We gave them food and drink, and took care of them,” he said.
00:00 dk 19 Mart 2018 AA Drone footage captures Afrin town center after TAF, FSA take control
A video shot by a drone of Turkish Armed Forces shows Turkish Armed Forces and Free Syrian Army (FSA) taking complete control of northwestern Syria's Afrin within the "Operation Olive Branch" on March 18, 2018.
Turkish agency continues aid delivery in NW Syria
Turkey's Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) on Tuesday delivered more humanitarian aid in northwestern Syria as part of Operation Olive Branch.In a statement, the foundation said food, childcare packages and hygiene kits have been delivered to the families in Afrin's town center, Mabatli town and Kawkabah village -- which were liberated from YPG/PKK terrorists.The Turkish troops and Free Syrian Army fighters took control of the Afrin town center early on Sunday.It said almost 2,000 families have so far received the aid.Yakup Alaca, an official at IHH Press Office in southern Turkish province of Kilis, said that they have been sending aid to civilians in Afrin since the launch of the operation on Jan. 20.In addition to humanitarian aid, IHH is also sending bread to Afrin from a bakery in Reyhanli district of southern province of Hatay, close to the Syrian border.Selim Tosun, IHH’s media adviser, told Anadolu Agency that they are delivering 30,000 loaves of bread to the families in Afrin daily.Tosun added that they are planning to open two bakeries in Afrin and Jinderes district.Turkish troops go door to door, distributing aid to Afrin residentsTurkish agency helps Turkmen refugees in LebanonTurkey: US can’t comprehend purpose of Afrin operationAccording to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey's borders and the region as well as protect Syrians from terrorist cruelty and oppression.The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN charter, and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.The military has also said that only terrorist targets are being destroyed and "utmost care" is being taken to avoid harming any civilians.
Turkish troops go door to door, distributing aid to Afrin residents
As life returns to normal in the Afrin city center following Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch, members of the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) went house to house, distributing humanitarian aid to families after assessing their needs.Efforts are still ongoing to clear the city entirely of any terror elements that may be still hiding in Afrin.Video: Turkish soldiers distribute humanitarian aid to Afrin residentsConcealed booby-traps deactivatedEfforts are underway to remove all mines and improvised explosives that were planted by Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorists with the intention of targeting civilians.Specialized teams neutralized booby-traps by carrying out controlled-detonation of mines after pinpointing their exact locations.Civilians have also routinely notified the TAF and FSA about any suspicious looking packages or traps that they encounter.Aid being distributedAs security reigns in the city, Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) increased their humanitarian efforts by going door-to-door in the Afrin’s center as they distribute aid to those in need, by inquiring about the number of family members residing in each house, and assessing their needs accordingly.Galeri: Turkish soldiers distribute food to local residents in AfrinAfrin residents return homeAfrin residents who were forced to flee to Azaz under PKK/PYD terror began to return to their homes following the success of Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch.Close to 200,000 Afrin residents are expected to return to the region after peace and security has been provided by Turkey’s operation.Video: PKK/PYG armory exposedResidents hand over terrorists to TAFResidents of Afrin on Monday handed over three PKK/KCK/PYD-YPG terrorists to Turkish troops carrying out efforts to normalize life in the region in the wake of the liberation of the town center.Turkish troops and Free Syrian Army fighters took control of the town center on Sunday as part of Operation Olive Branch which was launched on Jan. 20 to clear the area of YPG/PKK-Daesh terrorists.U.S. concern The U.S. expressed its concern after PKK/PYD terrorists it had armed fled Afrin without showing any resistance. The U.S. Secretary of State published a statement on its website saying that Washington is “deeply concerned” by the news coming out of Afrin, claiming that the operation could “damage the fight against Daesh,” prompting Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hami Aksoy to respond by saying “The U.S. has still not comprehended the reason for the operation. Operation Olive Branch is a fight against terror.”Food aid from AFADAfter the region was cleared from terrorists, Turkish civil organizations began distributing humanitarian aid to Afrin residents who began to return to their towns and villages.Nine new camps are being set up in the region by the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency of Turkey (AFAD), which, when complete, will house 170,000 Afrin residents.PKK’s armory decked with NATO weapons'Civilians, cultural sites inviolable for Turkish army’‘Terrorists flee Afrin without showing resistance’
'Civilians, cultural sites inviolable for Turkish army’
Turkish military on Monday said civilians, historical, cultural and religious sites are “inviolable” for the country’s troops.Turkish Armed Forces, along with Free Syrian Army, took complete control of the Afrin town center in northwestern Syria on Sunday as of 8.30 a.m. local time (GMT0530)."Civilian/innocent people, environment, historical, religious and cultural buildings are all inviolable for Turkish Armed Forces," said the post shared by Turkish Armed Forces on Twitter.Turkish Armed Forces also released the post-operation photos of Raqqah, Aleppo, Mosul and Eastern Ghouta to compare the cities' current situations with Afrin.The Afrin’s town center was cleared of terrorists on the 58th day of the Operation Olive Branch.Turkey on Jan. 20 launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin.According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey's borders and the region as well as protect Syrians from terrorist cruelty and oppression.After the Turkish military and Free Syrian Army liberated the Afrin town center from YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists on Sunday, fresh aerial footage showed that the civilians and buildings there remained unharmed.- Raqqah turned into ruinsHowever, during a U.S.-backed operation in Syria's Raqqah, more than 2,000 civilians had been killed and the city center was turned into ruins when the YPG/PKK cleared the area from Daesh.On Oct. 17, 2017, the YPG/PKK backed by the U.S. forces cleared Daesh terrorists from Raqqah. The footage filmed by Anadolu Agency’s correspondent displayed the whole of Raqqah was turned into ruins.A group of activists -- named Raqqah is Being Slaughtered Silently -- reported on Oct. 17, 2017 that 90 percent of the city was demolished.On Dec. 14, 2017, Syrian Network for Human Rights said in a report that 2,371 civilians -- including 562 children -- were killed during the operation and around 450,000 civilians were left displaced.Turkish Armed Forces and Free Syrian Army (FSA) have shown maximum sensitivity for the safety of civilians during the Operation Olive Branch, which was launched on Jan. 20 to clear the area of YPG/PKK-Daesh terrorists.The footages filmed by the Anadolu Agency and the Turkish army’s drones revealed that the buildings in Afrin’s city center remained undamaged.The footages also showed that life has returned to normalcy and civilians can be seen on the streets.Some of the vehicles and buildings in the city center were damaged by the terrorist group in a bid to give an impression that the Turkish military has targeted civilians.
‘Terrorists flee Afrin without showing resistance’
The strategic foresight and high-tech domestic weapons used by Turkish Armed Forces played an important role in the success of the Turkish-led Operation Olive Branch in Syria’s Afrin region, security experts say.On Sunday, the Turkish troops and Free Syrian Army fighters took control of the Afrin town center as part of the operation, which was launched on Jan. 20 to clear the area of YPG/PKK-Daesh terrorists.A total of 3,622 terrorists have been "neutralized" since the beginning of the operation, according to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday.Security experts say that YPG/PKK terrorists fled the town center without showing any resistance when they took into account that they were not able to resist Turkish Armed Forces together with FSA.Around 5,000-6,000 terrorists, who were in the Afrin’s town center, fled to Manbij, Hasakah, Raqqah, Tal Rifat and northern Aleppo, said Abdullah Agar, Turkey’s well-known security expert.“… Some members of PKK are now laying down their weapons and maintaining their presence in Afrin,” he said.One of the important reasons behind the success of Turkish Armed Forces during the Operation Olive Branch is the strategic intelligence that they used successfully in the field, Agar said.He also underlined the importance of using domestic and high-tech weapons during the operation.- Sustainability of operation“Sophisticated weapons systems and high-tech weapons that we used have been the most important force multiplier of the operation.”Another security expert Murat Aslan also holds similar views with Agar.The domestically-made weapons -- which have decreased the dependence on foreign countries -- played an important role in sustainability of the operation, said Aslan.“They [terrorists] thought that they were able to fight with Turkish Armed Forces and Free Syrian Army as a regular army.”However, he added, Turkish Armed Forces eliminated them using all the possibilities including diplomacy in a best way possible.Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 to clear terrorist groups from Afrin in northwestern Syria amid growing threats posed from the region.According to the Turkish General Staff, Operation Olive Branch has aimed to establish security and stability along Turkey's borders and the region as well as protect Syrians from terrorist cruelty and oppression.The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN charter, and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.The military has also said that only terrorist targets are being destroyed and "utmost care" is being taken to avoid harming any civilians.