Turkey has deployed special operations forces in the Syrian area of Afrin signaling a “new phase” in its operation against Kurdish militias operating there. According to reports, the Gendarmerie Special Operations (JÖH) will be tasked with carrying out urban warfare against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
“The deployment of the special forces is a sign of preparations for the new struggle looming ahead. Our struggle is currently ongoing around villages in rural areas away from the city center [of Afrin]. This operation will move towards places where civilians are situated as the battlefield is narrowed,” Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said during a TV interview on February 26.
“Turkey has vast experience conducting its anti-terror fight in residential areas without harming civilians, just as it had observed during the Euphrates Shield Operation,” Bozdag said hinting the Turkish military operation against ISIS in northern Aleppo in 2016. “That is why we plan to use our experienced special forces from the police, gendarmerie and army in that region. We are exerting our efforts to accomplish our objective by eliminating all terrorists without harming civilians.”
The official added that Operation Olive Branch will continue despite a UN Security Council resolution envisaging a 30-day nationwide ceasefire in Syria. He added that the ceasefire does not apply to ISIS, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other terrorist groups. Ankara describes that the YPG is a terrorist group also.