Chief of Staff Akar inspects ongoing Afrin operation from control aircraft

AA Photo

Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar inspected the ongoing Operation Olive Branch in northwestern Syria's Afrin region with fellow commanders-in-chief of armed forces from an airborne warning and control aircraft, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) said Friday in a written statement.

The military also announced Friday that 1062 terrorists had been "neutralized" since the beginning of the counter-terror operation.

The term "neutralized" is used in reference to terrorists captured dead or alive, or those who surrendered during the operations. However, the term is usually used for the terrorists who were killed in the operations.

One Turkish soldier was killed during Friday's operations, the statement added.

As Turkish warplanes continued to destroy shelters, hideouts and ammunition depots belonging to the PKK-linked People's Protection Units (YPG) and Daesh terrorists in northern Syria; tanks, Howitzers and multiple-launch rocket systems located in Reyhanlı district of southern Hatay province intensified bombardments.

Meanwhile, Turkish and Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces liberated five more villages in the Afrin region from YPG/PKK terrorists, the statement said.

Operation Olive Branch was launched by Turkey on Jan. 20 to remove the PKK/PYD/YPG/KCK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin in northwestern Syria.

According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkish borders and in the region as well as to protect Syrian people from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.

The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey's rights within international law, U.N. Security Council resolutions, its right to self-defense under the U.N. charter and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.

The military also said, "utmost importance" is being placed on not harming any civilians.

The operation in Afrin – bordering Turkey's Hatay and Kilis provinces – was widely expected in the wake of Turkey's Operation Euphrates Shield in northern Syria, which cleared Daesh terrorists from Turkey's border between Aug. 24, 2016, and March 2017.

Afrin has been a major hideout for the YPG/PKK since July 2012 when the Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without putting up a fight.

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