Clashes between Turkish forces and mercenaries in Afrin

The elimination operation launched by the Turkish army and allied mercenaries against some groups in Afrin is continuing. The operation is said to be the result of disagreement over olive harvest.

Clashes are ongoing in some parts of Afrin city following the operation started by the occupant Turkish army and allied mercenaries to eliminate some groups that have taken part in the occupation of the city.

A large number of special operations teams dispatched from Turkey and groups that Turkey gathered under the name of Jaysh-ul Wetenî (Syrian National Army) have launched an elimination operation against a group that split from ISIS and gathered under the name Ahrar al-Sharqiya.

According to reports, the operation was launched under the lead of the Turkish forces and Sultan Murad Brigades against the group Tecemma which is known to be close to Ahrar al-Sharqiya. The fighting continued with the involvement of Ahrar al-Sharqiya as well.

After the deployment of troops from Turkey, curfew was declared in the city at around 5am Sunday morning and the operation began afterwards with the support of Turkish reconnaissance aircraft. Sporadic clashes are continuing in Afrin’s Ashrafiya, Mahmudiya, Welat Street, Suq al-Hal, Kawa Square and industrial zone regions since.

DShK weapons, tanks and light weapons are being used in the operation and there are reports of casualties on both sides.

Reports suggest that the Turkish intelligence service MİT official responsible for Afrin has instructed Ahrar al-Sharqiya mercenaries to pay homage to Jaysh-ul Wetenî as the elimination operation would continue on the contrary case. Talks are reportedly continuing.

Tensions have been taking place between Ahrar al-Sharqiya and MİT-controlled Sultan Murad Brigades for some time. Contrary to the Turkish media reports of “operation against some groups involved in theft and looting in Afrin”, the operation is said to be the result of disagreement over olive harvest.

While the Turkish state seeks to seize 85% of Afrin’s olives and bring them to Turkey, many mercenary groups in the city insist on harvesting and selling the olives in the areas under their control.

Asked about the looting of olives in Afrin at the Plan and Budget Commission meeting, Turkish Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Bekir Pakdemirli confessed the plundering on Saturday with the following remarks; “The issue in Afrin is this: we as the AKP government do not want the PKK to get an income from Afrin, and we are strict about it. In the regions under our control, we want the incomes to be passed on to us. For this reason, the Agricultural Credit Cooperatives have been assigned a task of 5 thousand tons. To this end, the gates were opened on the 8th and 600 tons of products have entered since.”

Ahrar al-Sharqiya was founded by a group that had split from ISIS in Deir ez-Zor countryside before, and took part in the invasion of Jarablus, al-Bab and Afrin together with the Turkish army.