Turkey has lost three soldiers in the four days of Operation Olive Branch in the Kurdish-controlled Afrin region of Syria. According to media reports, Lt. Oğuz Kaan Usta and Spec. Sgt. Mehmet Mehmet Muratdağ were killed on Tuesday during clashes between Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants and Turkish forces in Afrin.
Non-commissioned officer Musa Özalkan, who died on Monday during the Afrin operation, was buried following a funeral in Ankara attended by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and political party leaders.
Erdoğan delivered a statement at the funeral, vowing that the operation would result in a “clear victory.” “We have no time to listen to what other countries say about our operation. The decision to launch the operation was given by our people. The people will not give any respite to a few ignoble men on our borders,” he said.
Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım on Sunday said Turkey was going to establish a 30-kilometer-deep secure zone in Afrin. Underlining that there are about 8-10,000 militants in Afrin, Yıldırım said they would settle new refugees outside Turkey’s border if a new influx starts due to the operation in Afrin.
The YPG is the armed wing of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Turkey views as the Syrian extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Turkey with Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces took control of the Jarablus and Al Bab areas in northern Syria during an operation against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants between August 2016 and March 2017.
More than 70 soldiers were lost during Operation Euphrates Shield, which was evaluated as a strategic move to prevent unification of areas controlled by the Kurdish PYD. President Erdoğan on Oct. 8, 2017 said Turkey would not allow a Kurdish corridor in Syria extending along the Turkish border to the Mediterranean. (SCF with turkishminute.com)