By Sinan Uslu
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim was briefed on Monday via video conference by an operation center in southern Hatay province about an ongoing operation in Syria’s northwestern Afrin region.
Turkey on Jan. 20 launched Operation Olive Branch to liberate Afrin from PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists.
Yildirim spoke to Lt. Gen. Ismail Metin Temel, the commander of the second army and commander of Operation Olive Branch, ahead of the council of ministers’ meeting at Cankaya Palace in capital Ankara.
The communication was made through a new national instant messaging application PTTmessenger.
“The operation is continuing as planned,” Temel told Yildirim during the video conference. “We are putting in all sorts of efforts in order to not harm both our soldiers and civilians.”
“Our target is to eliminate the terrorists completely. Following the operation, we believe people in Afrin will be freed from oppression and persecution of these terrorists,” he said.
“Thank you for your support,” the general added.
“Thanks. We wish success to you,” Yildirim said.
According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region as well as to protect Syrians from terrorist oppression and cruelty.
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 importance" is being put on avoiding harming civilians.
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 a fight.