TURKEY

President Erdoğan visits, inspects Afrin operation base in southern Hatay

PRESIDENT ERDOĞAN VISITS, INSPECTS AFRIN OPERATION BASE IN SOUTHERN HATAY

President Erdoğan on Thursday visited Turkish military units in Turkey's Hatay province bordering northwestern Syria's Afrin.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Thursday visited and inspected Turkish military units in southern Hatay province bordering northwestern Syria's Afrin, as the Operation Olive Branch targeting PKK/PYD/YPG and Daesh terrorists in the Afrin region continues.

Erdoğan, accompanied by Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar, visited the operation base on the sixth day of the ongoing Afrin counter-terror operation.

Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ, Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli and Land Forces Commander of the Turkish Armed Forces Gen. Yaşar Güler were also present during the high-profile visit.

Due to the president's surprise trip to Hatay, a previously-planned meeting between Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım was postponed, media sources said.

According to the Turkish General Staff, the Operation Olive Branch aims to establish security and stability along Turkish borders and in the region, as well as to protect Syrian people from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.

The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey's rights within international law, U.N. Security Council resolutions, its right to self-defense under the U.N. charter and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.

The military also said "utmost importance" is being placed on not harming any civilians.

The operation in Afrin – bordering Turkey's Hatay and Kilis provinces – was widely expected in the wake of Turkey's Operation Euphrates Shield in northern Syria, which cleared Daesh terrorists from Turkey's border between Aug. 24, 2016, and March 2017.

Afrin has been a major hideout for the YPG/PKK since July 2012 when the Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without putting up a fight.

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