'Terror nests' in Afrin pose threat to Turkey
ANKARA There are currently 8,000-10,000 terrorists in Afrin region in Aleppo, near the Turkish-Syrian border, which has been besieged by the PYD/PKK terrorists. Terrorists are now hiding in shelters and pits in residential areas in Afrin -- a region bordering Turkey's Hatay and Kilis provinces -- after Turkey pointed out the region was a nest for terrorists. According to intelligence gathered by Anadolu Agency correspondents, the population in the region increased nearly 400 percent, due to migration which began in 2012. The 2,290-square-kilometer (1,422.94-square-miles) area used to have 178,000 inhabitants. This number rose to nearly 750,000, according to local sources. The eastern part of Afrin comprises of two districts: Tel Rifat -- which is occupied by PYD/PKK terrorist organization, and Azez -- controlled by opposition forces, which also control Idlib province. The Afrin district is important as it borders Assad regime forces in its south. It also lies northeast to Idlib and Aleppo cities, a stronghold of opposition forces. The opposition forces also control Azaz district, bordering Turkey. PYD/PKK targets Azaz district in order to strengthen their terror network to Afrin and Ayn-ul-Arab districts. Therefore, Afrin stands out as a training and logistic hub for terrorists. From time to time, PYD/PKK pushes the triangular Azaz, Aleppo and Jarabulus regions to be effective against Syrian Turkmen living in those areas. Because of this, civilians in Azaz had to experience mortar shelling from Afrin. First nest of PYD/PKK While other Kurdish political movements organized themselves around Haseke region during Hafez al-Assad regime between 1971 and 2000, terrorist leader Abdullah Ocalan chose Afrin. Many business organizations, including olive and olive oil businesses, were established because of PYD/PKK's capital investments. After Bashar al-Assad left Afrin to PYD/PKK without putting up a fight in 2012, it became a 'terror nest' -- following Mount Qandil near Iraq-Iran border. The area became a 'terror nest' for PYD/PKK, especially during the civil war in Syria. The organization unilaterally declared their government in Afrin, and Amude and Ayn-ul-Arab (Kobane) districts in January 2014 calling them 'cantos'. No U.S. soldiers are currently in Afrin, while around 100 Russian military police are located in Tel Rifat, Tel Acar and Kefer Cenne areas. The terrorist organization continued to become powerful because of the Assad regime and Russia's tactical support in the eastern part of Euphrates River. Geographical advantage for terrorists The mountainous geography of Afrin poses advantage for the terrorist organization, despite being besieged by opposition forces in Syria from south and east. There are many fruit gardens and olive trees in the area, as well as industrial infrastructure that was established in the 80s and 90s, therefore the organization does not have to depend on other regions. Afrin is a region where PYD/PKK uses Amanos Mountains to sneak ammunition and weapons to plot terrorist actions in Turkey. The security sources who spoke to Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity say PYD/PKK gathered heavy weapons due to Assad regime's hell since October 2015. Turkey will continue to fight against terrorism along its southern borders with an operation in the northern Syrian region of Afrin, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday. "In the coming days, God willing, we will continue with Afrin [operation] -- that we started first with Euphrates Shield Operation -- to purge terrorism from our southern borders,” Erdogan said in the central Anatolian Tokat province. The Afrin operation will follow Turkey's successful seven-month Operation Euphrates Shield, which ended last March. On Saturday, Turkish security forces hit several PYD/PKK targets in the Afrin district of Syria's Aleppo province to prevent a "terror corridor" from forming along Turkey's borders. The PYD/PKK is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and EU. Since the PKK launched its terror campaign in 1984, an estimated 40,000 people have been killed in Turkey in related violence.