Turkish forces reach outskirts of Afrin town


Turkish troops are close to reaching the northwest Syrian city of Afrin, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Erdoğan said on March 11 in the northwestern province of Bolu, referring to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

The latest advancements of Turkish troops and FSA fighters brought the front line only two kilometers away from Afrin's town center.

"Approximately 850 square kilometers are under our control during the Afrin operation, and our aim is to clear 2,000 square kilometers from terrorists", he added.

Only terrorist positions are being targeted while the utmost care has been taken to avoid civilian casualties, according to Turkish military officials.

Erdoğan added that a total of 3,300 YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists have been "neutralized" in Afrin since the start of Operation Olive Branch in northwestern Syria.

Turkey is negotiating with Iraq to launch a joint operation against the PKK terrorist organization, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said, Turkish media reported on March 9.

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In mid-February, Turkey marked 66 years of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation membership. The PKK is considered to be a terrorist group not only by Turkey, but also by the USA and the EU. Under NATO charter, an attack on one of the alliance's members is an attack on them all.

The Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters are now only five kilometers away from the Afrin city center, as Turkey's Operation Olive Branch enters its 50th day.

Afrin is separated from a much larger area held by Syrian Kurdish forces further east along the border with Turkey, including large swathes of land captured from Islamic State with support from the United States.

The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey's rights based on worldwide law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN charter, and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.

Airstrikes on PKK targets in northern Iraq, where the militant group has its main base in the Mt. Qandil region, near the Iranian border, have been carried out regularly since July 2015, when the PKK resumed its armed terror campaign.