Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reported on the recent developments in the country's ongoing military offensive in Afrin, saying that the Turkish Armed Forces would soon wrap up the advance, explaining that terrorists had already been fleeing the area.
"We will finish this operation very quickly. Terrorists are fleeing from there and we will chase them. Our aircraft are bombing them and the ground operation has started. We are conducting the operation to protect our borders," Erdogan said, as quoted by the NTV broadcaster.
The Turkish leader also criticized the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) for its reported call on people to attend the street protests opposing the operation.
"Know that wherever you go out on the streets our security forces are on your necks," Erdogan said.
After Turkey's Air Force offensive on January 20, which resulted in the damage of 108 targets out of 113 planned, the country launched a ground operation in the area on January 21.
According to the General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces' statement, the Turkish Air Force destroyed on Sunday at least 45 targets belonging to the Kurdish militia.
"As a part of the Olive Branch operation at least 45 terrorists' targets have been destroyed by our air force, including shelters, ammunition depots and firing positions. All the 32 aircraft engaged in the operation have successfully returned to its bases," the statement said.
On Saturday, the Turkish Armed Forces together with the Free Syrian Army launched an operation dubbed Olive Branch against the Kurdish forces in Syria's Afrin. The operation started at 14:00 GMT and a total of 72 Turkish aircraft conducted airstrikes in Afrin.
As Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag revealed on Saturday, the country's troops would leave Afrin as soon as the armed forces achieve the goals of the Olive Branch operation, specifying that the offensive wasn't "against our Turkmen, Kurdish or Arab brothers," but against the terrorists in the area.
Despite the fact that the military operation has already been condemned by Damascus, calling it a violation of Syrian sovereignty, Ankara has claimed it to be self-defense under international law.