The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says Turkish warplanes struck pro-Syrian regime militants in Afrin, killing at least 36.

Smoke rises in Rajo, Syria, March 3, 2018.
Smoke rises in Rajo, Syria, March 3, 2018. (Reuters)

Turkish warplanes struck pro-Assad militants in the northwestern Afrin region of Syria on Saturday, killing at least 36, as Turkey's assault in the region gathered pace, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

On January 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to clear YPG/PKK and Daesh militants from Afrin.

The pro-Syrian regime militants entered Afrin last week in support of the YPG, the stated target of the operation launched by Turkey and allied Free Syrian Army.

Previously, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that these kind of "terror organisations take wrong steps with the decision they take," adding that those will "pay a heavy price."

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said they had cleared the town of Rajo from militants, while the military said in a statement that the army had taken control of seven settlements including Rajo on Saturday.

Yildirim said: "Our soldiers, special forces, gendarmes and Free Syrian Army heroes are advancing towards Afrin step by step."

The Observatory said the Turkish army was in control of about 70 percent of the town, about 25 km northwest of Afrin city.

The Observatory said the air strike, which hit a camp in Kafr Jina, marked the third time in 48 hours that Turkish warplanes had struck pro-regime militants in Afrin.

Turkish air strikes had targeted positions held by the pro-regime and Iran-backed Shia militias called "Popular Forces" from 0300 GMT until 0800 GMT.

It did not say where or give a death toll.

Turkey views the YPG as an extension of the PKK, which has waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years and is deemed a terrorist group by the US, the EU and Turkey. 

Source: TRTWorld and agencies