By Erdal Turkoglu
The Turkish army continued its military shipment to southern Hatay province along the Syrian border on Sunday, according to a security source.
Turkey launched “Operation Olive Branch” on Saturday at 5 p.m.(1400GMT) in Syria’s northwestern Afrin region; the aim of the operation is to establish security and stability along Turkish borders and the region as well as to eliminate PKK/KCK/PYD-YPG and Daesh terror groups, and protect the Syrian people from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.
The operation is being conducted under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council’s decisions, especially no. 1624 (2005), 2170 (2014) and 2178 (2014) and as per the self-defense right under 51st item of the UN charter, while being respectful to Syria’s territorial integrity.
Turkish army fired artillery rounds throughout the night, targeting the terror nests of the terror organization in Afrin.
"108 targets, which were used as shelters, hideouts and ammunition depots by terrorist organizations PKK/KCK/PYD-YPG and Daesh in seven areas, were destroyed by the air force," the military said in a statement late Saturday.
On Saturday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that a ground operation in Syria's Afrin had been launched.
Military vehicles and commandos were earlier sent to reinforce troops stationed at Reyhanli, Kirikhan and Hassa districts of Hatay province.
Artillery rounds from villages of southern Turkey's Kilis and Hatay provinces were also fired.
Turkish security forces also used howitzers during Saturday night on PYD/PKK targets in Afrin from Hatay.
Prayers for victory
Across the country on Sunday, people gathered at 90,000 mosques and prayed for Turkey's success in "Operation Olive Branch" in Afrin.
Turkey has long protested the U.S. support for the PYD -- the Syrian offshoot of the terrorist PKK -- and its military wing the YPG.
Washington has called the terrorist group a "reliable ally" in its fight against Daesh in Syria even though its mother organization, the PKK, is listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the U.S., and the EU, having waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years, killing nearly 40,000 people.
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 also threatens Idlib deescalation zone over Afrin. A quarter of Syria land and 65 percent of Turkey-Syria border is under occupation of the terrorist organization.