Operation Olive Branch against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants across the border in Afrin will be completed “in a very short period of time,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vowed on Jan. 21.
“We were in contact with our Chief of General Staff [Hulusi Akar] and commanders all night. We are constantly monitoring what is happening. God willing, we will complete this operation within a very short period of time,” said Erdoğan, addressing supporters in the western city of Bursa before a women’s branch congress of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
“We still have a lot of work to do. Necessary steps were taken with the air operation last night [Jan. 20]. Then a ground offensive started and it is now continuing. Fifty-five percent of Afrin is made up of Arabs and 35 percent is made up of Kurds, who were settled there recently. Six or seven percent of Afrin is made up of Turkmens. The main issue is making sure Afrin is handed over to its real owners,” he added.
Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım previously commented on the ongoing operation, vowing that it would continue until all “terrorist elements are cleared” from the region.
Every kind of logistical support provided to the YPG militants in the region would figure among “Turkey’s targets,” Yıldırım said on Jan. 21, speaking to the editors of Turkish news publications in a meeting held in Istanbul, in response to a question over what would happen in case of U.S. logistical support to the YPG.
“Operation Olive Branch Operation is for the [Syrian] war to end, for the peace of the local community, and for territorial integrity of Syria … The operation is in line with international law. It is being conducted for the reason of self-defense, as per the 51st article of the U.N. agreement. The operation is being conducted for the fight against terrorism and the territorial integrity of Syria, within U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1373, 1624, 2170 … We are also taking great care not to hurt civilians while arsenals and shelters are destroyed,” he said.
“In the recent period our borders have been exposed to harassment more than 700 times. Last night six rockets were fired into Kilis. No one has lost their lives, but the location of the rockets was determined and destroyed,” Yıldırım added.
“Technical problems were experienced initially concerning the use of air space. But the problem was solved quickly … The closing of the air space is now not in question. Round-the-clock coordination is now continuing,” he said.
Turkey’s prime minister also said the Syrian regime was notified of the operation via Russia, adding that “Russia has so far not shown any hostility towards us [regarding the operation].”
Yıldırım said Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli had lent “his full support,” while main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu had also “given his support.”
“They had some concerns about the air space but we explained it to them and dealt with these points,” he added.