Turkey’s armed forces and its allies from Free Syrian Army (FSA) factions pushed the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia forces out of the town center on Thursday after capturing a hill overlooking the town a day earlier, Anadolu said, adding that operations to secure the area were continuing.
Ankara launched operation “Olive Branch” against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) on January 20, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowing it would be “finished in a very short time.”
The operation in the northern Afrin region has been a watershed in Turkey’s modern relations with the West, pitting the Turkish army against a militia force allied with fellow NATO member the United States in the battle against Islamic State (IS) jihadists.
But Turkey initially made slow progress, with the battle hardened YPG putting up fierce resistance and the army making only the most gradual of indents inside the border toward Afrin town, the main target of the campaign.
Forty-two Turkish soldiers have been killed, each one hailed as a martyr and buried with full honors in a campaign where the support of the Turkish public is crucial.
But the capture of Jinderes, the key town in the district after Afrin itself, is a major success for Turkey and gives the army and allied Syrian rebels a clear shot at Afrin town to the east.