Turkish president makes surprise visit as Operation Olive Branch enters 6th day.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited a military command center in southern Hatay province on Thursday as the ongoing operation in northern Syria entered its sixth day, according to a presidential source.
Erdogan was accompanied by National Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli, Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, Second Army Command Commander Lt. Gen. Ismail Metin Temel, Deputy Premier Bekir Bozdag and Hatay Governor Erdal Ata, said the source who asked not to be named due to restriction on speaking to the media.
The command operation center is tasked with running Operation Olive Branch.
Erdogan was updated on the progress of the operation by military commanders via video conferences with other operating centers, the source added.
In his address to soldiers at the base, Erdogan reiterated that the operation would continue till they get results.
He also repeated Turkey was not eyeing another country’s lands, and Afrin would be handed over to its original owners soon after it is cleared of terrorists, the source said.
Turkey on Saturday 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 Turkish borders and the region as well as to protect the Syrian people from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.
The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council’s decisions, 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 importance" is being given to not harm 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 putting up a fight.