By Ahmed al-Masri, Said İbicioğlu and Mahmut Geldi
Arab media have shed the spotlight on Turkey’s ongoing Operation Olive Branch to dislodge the PYD/PKK terrorist group from northern Syria’s Afrin city.
Most newspapers cited President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s statements that the operation targets PYD/PKK terrorists in the city. “Erdoga
n: Olive Branch to defeat terrorists”, headlined Qatar’s Al Watan newspaper.
The daily published a picture of Syrians waving a banner reading “We back Turkish military operation to shield our people from PYD terror”.
The Qatari Raya newspaper cited Erdogan’s criticism during a recent party conference of U.S. plans to create a PYD/PKK force in northern Syria.
“Turkey launches Olive Branch Operation in Afrin”, read the main headline of the Saudi-funded Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.
The daily said Ankara has informed Damascus of its military operation in Afrin and cited Erdogan’s statements that the operation will include Manbij.
The Saudi newspaper pointed out to the Turkish military’s statement that the operation aims to achieve “security and stability” along the Turkish border and in the region and end the presence of PYD/PKK and Daesh in Afrin.
Bahraini newspaper Al-Ayam cited Turkish Foreign Minister Mavlut Cavusoglu’s statements that the operation “only targets terrorists” and that Turkey “has informed all sides of what we are doing”.
The Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai headlined "Turkey launches Olive Branch against the Kurds of Afrin and ‘angry’ Russia ... withdraws its soldiers”.
“Erdogan: Manbij will be next ... and gradually we will clear the borders of this terrorist filth,” reads another headline by the daily.
The operation -- aimed at eliminating PYD/PKK and Daesh elements from Syria's Afrin -- was launched at 5 p.m. (GMT1400) on Saturday. It was being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council’s decisions, self-defense rights under the UN charter and respect to Syria's territorial integrity, according to the military.
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 Turkish cities of Kilis and Hatay across the Syrian border are within the firing range of the PYD/PKK group from Afrin, which sits atop a hill. The terror group has also used Amanos Mountains to penetrate from Syria into Turkey.
The PYD/PKK depends on Afrin to connect to the Mediterranean from northwestern Syria. The terrorist organization has also threatened the gains made from Operations Euphrates Shield and Idlib de-escalation zone over Afrin. A quarter of Syria land and 65 percent of Turkey-Syria border are currently under occupation of the terrorist organization.
Operation Euphrates Shield began in August 2016 and ended in late March 2017 to improve security, support coalition forces and eliminate the terror threat along the Turkish border.