Turkish army cleans Afrin roads of terrorist mines

Posted March 25, 2018

Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on January 20 to clear terrorist groups from Afrin in northwestern Syria amid growing threats in the region.

On January 26, Erdogan threatens to expand Turkey's offensive in Syria, vowing to "clean up" the YPG-held northern city of Manbij, where the United States has a military presence. "If you can't handle it, then we may suddenly enter Sinjar one night and clear out the PKKs there".

Ankara sees the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia as an extension of the separatist Kurdish PKK group that has battled the Turkish military since the 1980s, and is classified as a terrorist organization by the US, the European Union and Turkey.

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Such an insurgency could prove to be "a big thorn" for the USA military operation in Syria, Heras said. Anadolu News agency said the bomb was reportedly left by the Syrian Kurdish fighters.

Damascus has on several occasions accused Turkey of supporting "terrorist" group and criticized for its military offensive on Syrian soil. Federica Mogherini told reporters in Brussels that global efforts in Syria should be aimed at "de-escalating the military activities and not escalating them".

Adil Siraz, the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) provincial director in southern Turkey's Kilis province, near Syria, said that AFAD teams have been racing to serve the areas cleared of terrorists.

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Dug by terrorists in the hills around the Afrin town center, the tunnels were found by members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) who were on a search operation in the area. Some 200,000 people fled Afrin in recent days as the Turkish offensive escalated, and whether they will be permitted to return remains an open question.

Despite the intervention residents continue to flee the area amid widespread reports of looting. Others were seen driving away with tractors and agriculture supplies.

It further said, "Turkey's behaviour and attacks do not only threaten citizens and the unity of Syria's land and people - they also prolong the war on Syria as a service to terrorism and its supporters".

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The US State Department calls on Turkey to "exercise restraint", but Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says Ankara has "legitimate" security concerns and had warned Washington prior to the operation. "Some are saying those who come settle in our homes must be killed to prevent others from even thinking about it", he said.