The President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Saturday that the military operation in Afrin is about to end.
His statement comes after Turkish forces gained control of the strategic mount-Darmak in Afrin, Syria. According to Anadolu news agency, the forces reportedly raised the Turkish flag at its peak.
The Turkish forces also gained control of Mount Barsia.
According to the Turkish side, the importance of Mount Darmak lies in its strategic position used to bomb the border city of Kalis with missiles fired by the Kurdish protection forces.
Nearly a week ago, President Erdogan's threatened to expand the Olive Branch offensive to other northern Syrian cities.
“We will continue our fight until there is no terrorist on our border leading to Iraq,” Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara, vowing to “clean up” the city of Manbij, east of Afrin, also held by the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia.
Two more Turkish soldiers killed, says army
Meanwhile, two more Turkish soldiers were killed Saturday in Turkey’s offensive against Kurdish militia inside Syria, the army said, bringing to nine the number killed so far in the incursion.
The army said that one of the soldiers was killed in a clash and another on the border area, without giving further details.
In a separate statement, it added a Turkish army tank had been hit in an attack.
President Erdogan had said on Thursday the Turkish army and Ankara-backed rebels had suffered 25 fatalities between them in the operation so far.
Meanwhile, seven civilians have been killed in mortar fire on the Turkish side of the border that Ankara blames on the YPG.
Ankara says that hundreds of YPG fighters have been killed in the operation so far but it is not possible to verify this.
Turkey says the YPG is an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which has waged a three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state.
But the YPG has been working closely with the United States to fight the ISIS extremist group in Syria.
- Erdogan threatens to expand offensive to other northern Syrian cities
- Erdogan to Trump: US should withdraw from Syria’s Manbij
- Erdogan vows to expand military operation from Afrin to Manbij
- Turkey to continue Euphrates Shield operation in northern Syria, Erdogan says
- Turkey seeks jail term for NBA player for insulting Erdogan