The Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim stated that the country’s warplanes have bombed YPG, PYD targets in the Syrian city of Afrin.
The senior Turkish official also declared that the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army had started a military advance in the territory of the Kurdish-populated Syrian city of Afrin.
“From this moment, the heroic Turkish Armed Forces have launched an air operation to destroy the PYD/PKK and Daesh elements in Afrin”, Yildirim announced.
The start of the advance has been confirmed by the country’s Armed Forces, which declared that the “Olive Branch” operation has been launched at 05:00 p.m. local time (02:00 p.m. GMT).
According to the Turkish Hurriyet newspaper, the country’s F-16 jets have conducted the strikes on six targets in Afrin, adding that simultaneously the Turkish armed forces have launched the artillery shelling from the Kilis province, bordering Syria.
The aircraft of the Turkish Armed Forces hit a Democratic Union Party (PYD) observation post in Syria’s northern district of Afrin, the Anadolu news agency reports.
The news comes after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has officially confirmed the de facto start of the operation in Syria’s Afrin earlier in the day, adding that the operation would be followed by another Kurdish-controlled Syrian town of Manbij.
The operation does not come as a surprise: Turkey has been threatening to launch the offensive in Afrin since last week, following the US announcement of its decision to start training a border protection force comprising the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), affiliated with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which considered to be a terrorist group by Turkey.
Reacting to the Turkey’s announcement, US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert urged the country not to engage in any invasion of Syria’s Afrin, echoing a statement made by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who also assured that the US had no intention to build a Syria-Turkey border force, saying the issue, which has incensed Ankara, had been “misportrayed.”