PM: Turkey to establish 30-kilometer-deep secure zone in Syria’s Afrin

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Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım (C) meets with media representatives at the Vahdettin Mansion in Istanbul, Turkey on January 21, 2018. Turkish Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesperson Bekir Bozdağ (C-L), Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli (2nd R), Ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party Deputy Chairman and AK Party's Spokesman Mahir Ünal (L) and Undersecretary of Prime Ministry Fuat Oktay (R) also attended the meeting. Ali Balikci / Anadolu Agency

As Turkish ground forces started to move into Syria’s Afrin region along with the Free Syrian Army (FSA), Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım on Sunday said Turkey was going to establish a 30-kilometer-deep secure zone in Afrin, Cumhuriyet reported.

“The operation will be conducted in four phases. A 30-kilometer-deep secure zone will be created,” Yıldırım told representatives of Turkish media during a briefing on Operation Olive Branch, which targets the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD).

Turkish Armed Forces backed by armored vehicles, special forces and infantry regiments had advanced five kilometers (three miles) inside Afrin, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Sunday.

“All sorts of logistical support [to the PYD] will be our target,” Yıldırım said when asked what would happen if the US were to give logistical support to PYD militants.

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.

Turkey views the PYD as the Syrian extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Turkish warplanes and artillery have hit 153 PYD/PKK and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) targets in Afrin, so far, the Turkish General Staff said earlier on Sunday, Anadolu reported.

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