Turkish Army: Afrin Town Center Taken Under Control

The Turkish military said Sunday it had taken complete control of the Afrin town center in northwestern Syria.

“The Afrin town center was taken under control by Turkish Armed Forces and Free Syrian Army,” the General Staff said on its official Twitter account.

A search operation for mines and improvised explosive devices is underway, it added.

Earlier, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Turkey-backed forces took complete control of the town center at 08.30 a.m. local time (0500GMT).

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.

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.

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.