By Burcu Calik
As civilians who have fled Afrin, Syria begin to return there after parts of it are liberated from the terrorist groups PYD/PKK and Daesh, the Turkish military on Friday stressed its care to avoid harming civilians in its current operation.
"We believe Afrin belongs to Afrin locals, and our operation aims to allow them, who are our brothers, to be rescued from terrorist oppression so they can return to their homes safely," said a Turkish General Staff statement. "Only terror targets are being destroyed and utmost care is being taken to not harm civilians," it reiterated.
Rebuffing terrorist smear campaigns, the statement added: "Terror supporters try to smear Operation Olive Branch on social media with old, fake photos and videos. The photos preceded Operation Olive Branch and are completely unrelated."
As for terrorists who try to disguise themselves as civilians, the military said: "The terrorists who use terror shelters and fire at our troops cannot be considered civilians.”
The General Staff also stressed its continued effort to defeat Daesh in Syria, saying: "The fight against the Daesh terror group has not deviated one bit; on the contrary, the Turkish Armed Forces contributes much more than the other countries in the fight against the terrorist organization."
Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 to remove YPG/PKK-Daesh terrorists from Afrin, northwestern Syria.
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 oppression and cruelty.
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.