ANKARA: Turkey’s president said on Sunday that the Turkish-led Operation Olive Branch will soon capture a strategic peak in Afrin, Syria that has been used to launch cross-border attacks.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s remarks came during a rally ahead of a provincial congress of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party in the central Corum province.
“I just talked with the commander. He said, ‘I hope we will soon capture Mt. Bu-rsaya as well’,” said Erdogan.
The battle at Mt. Bursaya, a strategic peak in northeast Afrin, had intensified early Sunday as Turkish-backed forces continue to rid more territories of the terrorist PYD/PKK.
The terrorist group has used Mt. Bursaya to target civilians in the center of Turkey’s Kilis province and Syria’s Azaz district through mortar shells, artillery, and missiles.
On Wednesday two civilians were killed by a PYD/PKK attack on a mosque in Kilis, and on Saturday at least three civilians, including a child, were injured by PYD/PKK terrorist attacks on Kilis and Hatay.
Eliminating terrorists from Mt. Bursaya will help Turkey reduce the terror threat at its border and protect civilians in Syria.
Meanwhile, a top aide to Turkish president criticized some Western countries seeing Turkey’s military operation in Syria as a distraction from the fight against Daesh.
In a column, titled “Allies should support Turkey against terrorism”, for Daily Sabah newspaper, Ibrahim Kalin said Turkey’s Opera-tion Olive Branch “is in full conformity with the goal of eliminating all terrorist thre-ats from Syria and a step in the right direction to protect Syria’s territorial integrity.”
The column was published more than a week after Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin, northwestern Syria.
“Operation Olive Branch is fully legitimate within the framework of self-defense as is enshrined in Article 51 of the U.N. Charter,” Kalin said.
Kalin pointed out that the southern Turkish cities of Hatay and Kilis were subject to over 700 attacks from Afrin over the past few years and the PKK was using the area as recruitment and training ground.
He said the PYD and YPG took control of Syria’s northwestern town of Afrin in the name of fighting Daesh, however, they used the Daesh threat as a pretext to expand their control areas in Syria to establish an autonomous region and eventually an independent state structure.
“Turkey cannot allow this to go any further,” Kalin said.
The aide recalled concerns of some countries over the size and duration of the operation and warnings about avoidance of civilian casualties.