Top brass visits troops on border with Syria

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The Turkish army chief visited troops for examinations in the southern province of Kilis near Turkey’s border with Syria on March 22.

Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar first visited Öncüpınar Border Gate and received information on the developments in the area.

Following Öncüpınar’s visit, Akar arrived in Gaziantep’s İslahiye district, accompanied by the military committee.

Meanwhile, three Turkish soldiers were killed in the northwestern Syrian city of Afrin after a hand-made explosive detonated, said Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım on the same day.

“’Operation Olive Branch’ has successfully been completed. Now, there is ongoing work to clear the area [of explosive devices]. Unfortunately, the terrorists have trapped all sides with hand-made explosives. While we clear them, there are also losses. Today, we had three martyrs,” Yıldırım said at an event in Ankara.

Furthermore, the Turkish Armed Forces found an explosive in Afrin, hidden inside a Quran by Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants, according to security forces.

An explosive hidden inside a copy of the Muslim holy book hanging on a wall was found in a house during security sweeps in the village of Shaykh Ubasi, in northwestern Afrin, said the sources, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

The sources also said security forces were able to detonate the device safely without any losses.

The misuse of a holy book to hide explosives follows similar incidents, including an attack on March 14 that killed a Turkish soldier.

Turkey launched “Operation Olive Branch” on Jan. 20 to clear YPG militants from Afrin. The Free Syrian Army took full control of the city on March 18.

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