By Halil Fidan and Behcet Alkan
Syrians are now enjoying a free and secure travelling from Syria’s Azaz district to Idlib province after Afrin region was cleared from YPG/PKK terrorists as part of Turkish-led Operation Olive Branch.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, locals say they previously had to pay a huge amount to the terror group while going to northern Idlib province, which borders Turkey.
“Thank God, we’ve got rid of terrorists,” Ibrahim Ugla, a resident of Afrin, told Anadolu Agency while he was preparing to set out for Afrin with his belongings.
Syria’s Afrin region has been taken under “complete” control as part of Turkish-led Operation Olive Branch, the Turkish military said on Saturday.
“Previously, they [terrorists] were demanding a $1000 ransom for large vehicles and $500 for small ones. It was a huge amount. People were not able to travel for this reason,” he said.
Ugla thanked Turkey for its support to the people of Syria.
“Our neighbor and friend Turkey have been protecting Syrians for years. Many of our brothers have been living in peace there. Now, Turkish soldiers are trying to provide peace here. God bless them.”
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Fatma el-Hamdo, another Syrian, also expressed her happiness to be freed from terrorists.
“Previously, we were afraid of terrorists[...] They used to take money from us while we were travelling.”
A total of 3,733 terrorists have been 'neutralized' since the start of the Operation Olive Branch in Syria's Afrin region, the Turkish military said in a statement on Saturday.
Turkish authorities often use the word "neutralized" in their statements to imply the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.
Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 to clear terrorist groups from Afrin in northwestern Syria amid growing threats from the region.
The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey's rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN charter, and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.
The military also said only terror targets are being destroyed and "utmost care" is being taken to not harm civilians.
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