Turkish defense minister says 2 key Syrian towns "under control"
ANKARA, Oct. 14 (Xinhua) -- Turkish Armed Forces have taken control of Tal Abyad and Ras Al-Ayn towns in northern Syria, Turkish Minister of Defense Hulusi Akar said on Monday.
"Tel Abyad and Ras Al-Ayn are under control. The work for the control of the region is ongoing," he told reporters, noting "support given by the citizens in Tel Abyad and in Ras Al-Ayn" to Turkey.
The minister said Turkey is determined to do its best on the issue of captured members of the Islamic State (IS) in the area that Operation Peace Spring covers in Syria, but the only prison in this region was emptied by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) before Turkish troops arrived.
"When we got there, we have seen that the Deash (IS) prison was emptied. We have detected that YPG people have taken Daesh members," he said.
Turkey's military operation in northern Syria continues in its sixth day. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier said that the operation would extend from northern Kobani in the west to Hasakah in the east and go deep into some 30 km into Syrian territory.
As a result of the conduct of Operation Peace Spring, a depth of 30-35 km has been reached and M-4 highway has been taken under control, the defense ministry said on Sunday.
On Oct. 9, Turkey started the Operation Peace Spring in the east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria to "secure its borders by eliminating terrorist elements and to ensure the safe return of Syrian refugees and Syria's territorial integrity."
Ankara wants to clear east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria of the YPG, which Turkey sees as the Syrian affiliate of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization also by the United States and the European Union.