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Turkish army, FSA forces take full control of Afrin province

ANKARA — Turkish armed forces and its ally, Free Syrian Army elements today took full control of Afrin region and rival forces including Kuridsh militants retreated to other areas of Syria.

According to Turkish Anatolia news agency,  the Turkish military shared the first video from Afrin after taking complete control of its town center. The General Staff on its Twitter account posted a video captioned: “The first pictures from Afrin”.

“This is a gift for those who were martyred on March 18,” said a Turkish soldier as he waved the national flag in the video. The 103rd anniversary of March 18, 1915 is marked as a national day in Turkey, known as “Canakkale Victory and Martyrs’ Day”.

This poignant day of remembrance marks the cataclysmic, months-long violence of the Canakkale (Gallipoli) Campaign when Ottoman forces suffered huge losses defending Turkish shores from the invading Allies in WWI.

Turkey on Jan. 20 launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin. According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region as well as protect Syrians from terrorist cruelty and oppression.

The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN charter, and respect for Syria’s territorial integrity, it said.

The military has also said that only terrorist targets are being destroyed and “utmost care” is being taken to avoid harming any civilians. Afrin has been a major hideout for the PYD/PKK since July 2012, when the Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without a fight.

The Turkish military and Free Syrian Army (FSA) on Sunday took control of a large underground ammunition depot in northwestern Syria, said security sources.

The 150-meter depot, spread over 12 rooms and reinforced by concrete walls, was found in the village of Cuvek, northwest of Afrin. According to reports instead of bombing the depot, Turkey-backed forces entered it and took over its control without harming any of the civilians hiding inside, said the source who refused to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

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