In an operation dubbed “Olive Branch,” Turkish military forces launched several air strikes on Kurdish targets in Afrin in northern Syria on Saturday. In a statement, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the Kurdish rebel groups “were all the same” and accused them of being terrorist organizations.

President Erdogan

President Erdogan Photo Credit: EPA

Turkish fighter jets launched air strikes on US-backed Kurdish targets in the northern Syrian district of Afrin on Saturday, according to Turkish military officials speaking to state-run media. Turkey has long considered the Kurdish groups in Syria as terrorists.

According to the officials, 108 targets were hit. “Turkey launched ‘Operation Olive Branch’ in accordance with its rights deriving from the international law and the right of self-defense placed in the UN Charter,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in a tweet on Saturday. He also added that “the operation doesn’t target civilians and innocent Syrians,” but only “terrorist groups.”

In a statement on Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the launch of operation “Olive Branch” and said that the operation in Afrin will be followed by one in Manbij, a town held by Kurdish rebels in eastern Syria.  Erdogan accused the militias of being terrorist organizations and claimed that they were “are all the same,” even if they changed their names.

Spokesman of the Kurdish militia People’s Protection Units (YPG) Rojhat Roj told Reuters on Saturday that the strikes have wounded several people. The exact number of injuries remains unclear.