By Alagie Manneh
The Turkish Ambassador to The Gambia on Monday briefed journalists on the status of ‘Operation Olive Branch,’ a military offensive launched by his country in Syria last January.
Turkey said the action is designed to ‘wipe-out the PKK and its affiliated elements PYD, YPG and Daesh terrorists from Afrin in north western Syria,’ along Turkey’s borders.
According to Ambassador Ismail Sefa Yuceer, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkish borders and in the region.
“These PKK elements were attacking the Turkish areas and military posts and other civilians were also targeted. Dozens of civilians have been killed on the Turkish side, due to these attacks from the Syrian side by the terrorists,” he said.
As a country supporting the territorial integrity of Syria, ambassador Yuceer said Ankara will not ‘tolerate these attacks’ on her ‘brothers and sisters in Syria by so-called terrorist groups’.
“So we started this operation in Afrin, a province on the northern part of Syria. These PKK elements are based there and in other places. And with this Operation Olive Branch, we want to wipe them out from the region.
“The ultimate aim is to wipe out all the terrorists and to enable the security of our border and the security of our Syrian brothers and sisters.”
The Turkish top diplomat added when operations of this magnitude start, misinformation and wrong perceptions could be spread all over, hence the need to inform the media on what really is happening on the ground.
Afrin has been a major hideout for the YPG/PKK since July 2012 when the Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without putting up a fight.
Ankara has since said ‘Operation Olive Branch’ was being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights within international, UN Security Council Resolutions, its right to self-defense under the UN charter and respect for Syria’s territorial integrity.