The Turkish military on Tuesday surrounded the Kurdish-held Syrian city of Afrin in the course of its Operation Olive Branch, the Turkish General Staff said.
“As a result of Operation Olive Branch, as of March 12, the center of the city of Afrin is surrounded, the strategically important areas are taken under control,” the military said in a statement.
On March 12, the Anadolu news agency reported, citing military sources, that Turkish Armed Forces and Free Syrian Army were advancing toward Afrin, and at that time they were 1.5 kilometers southeast of the city center.
According to the media outlet, a total of 1,100 square kilometers of the Afrin region have been cleared of Kurdish forces during the operation.
On January 20, Ankara, jointly with the opposition Free Syrian Army forces, launched Operation Olive Branch in Afrin in order to “clear” Turkey’s Syrian border from the terrorist threat. Turkey considers the Democratic Union Party (PYD), a Kurdish political party in northern Syria, and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia to be linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization by Ankara.
Damascus has condemned the operation as a violation of Syria’s sovereignty.