In pictures: Olive Branch forces photographed looting in Afrin city
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Images have emerged appearing to show the Syrian proxy forces who seized Afrin city center on Sunday morning looting businesses and the belongings left behind by fleeing families.
Fighters, supported by Turkish forces as part of Operation Olive Branch, entered the city on Sunday, raising Turkish and Syrian opposition flags over the buildings they captured.
Footage has also surfaced showing fighters shooting up then pulling down the statue of Kawa the blacksmith – a famous Kurdish icon associated with Newroz.
The fighters were photographed by AFP breaking into shops, restaurants and homes and seen making off with food, livestock, tractors, electronic equipment, blankets and other goods in trucks and trailers.
The incursion into the northwest Syrian canton, involving Turkish troops and their Syrian proxies, including the Free Syrian Army (FSA), began on January 20.
Ankara claims it launched the operation with the aim of creating a buffer zone along Turkey’s southern border, pushing back the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey says are affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a named terrorist organization. The groups deny the link.
The YPG claimed on Sunday evening that Afrin city has not fallen to Olive Branch forces, insisting its fighters are still resisted advances in districts of the town. They have pledged to launch a guerrilla campaign to push back the “invasion” and halt what they called the “ethnic cleansing” of Afrin.