President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said the Turkey-backed Operation Olive Branch into Syria’s northern district of Afrin has eliminated “all terror groups” there.
“We have buried all terrorist organizations in Afrin with [the operation of the Turkish army]. Likewise, we have buried them in Jarablus, al-Bab, [Mount] Gabar and Tendurek and have come so far today,” Erdoğan said on Jan. 20, marking the first anniversary of the operation.
Speaking at an event where he unveiled the mayoral candidates for the Black Sea province of Ordu’s districts, Erdoğan said many soldiers died in Afrin, while citing the concept of martyrdom in Islam.
“They have their eyes on our lands. But they will not divide us. They should know that we will make it hell for those who have laid their eyes on our lands,” he said.
Erdoğan added that Turkey and the Free Syrian Army have been continuing their struggle in the region.
The president also said there were “circles working against Turkey which surrounded the country from all fronts,” but did not elaborate on who they were.
Addressing his supporters in Ordu, he said the Black Sea province’s locals were already aware of the “window of opportunity that will be opened” to Turkey in the event that it reaches its aims.
“Today is the first anniversary of the Afrin operation. We have soldiers who were martyred in Afrin. May God bless their souls,” he added.
On Jan. 20, 2018, Turkey, in cooperation with the Free Syrian Army, launched OperationOlive Branch. The Turkish military said it aimed to eliminate the YPG and ISIL in Afrin.
The operation lasted 58 days, with the Turkish army eventually sweeping YPG militants from Afrin to the east of River Euphrates.
Turkey sees the YPG as the Syrian branch of the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.