At least 1141 terrorists have been "neutralized" since the beginning of Operation Olive Branch in Syria's Afrin, the Turkish military said Saturday.
The Turkish military uses the term "neutralized" in reference to terrorists captured dead or alive, or those who surrender during the operations. However, the term is usually used for the terrorists who have been killed in the operations.
In the statement, the military said that airstrikes by Turkish jets destroyed shelters, hideouts and ammunition depots belonging to the PKK-linked People's Protection Units (YPG) and Daesh terrorists in northern Syria.
A total of 36 targets were destroyed on the 22nd day of the counter-terror operation, killing 79 terrorists, the statement elaborated.
Later in the day, Turkish forces and the FSA announced that they had liberated the village of Deir Ballut in Jandaris, western Afrin, from YPG/PKK terrorists.
Since the operation began, Turkish forces and the FSA have liberated a total of 47 zones, including 30 villages and 13 strategic mountains or hills.
Meanwhile, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Saturday afternoon that a Turkish military helicopter was downed in Kırıkhan district of Hatay province during the ongoing Afrin operation.
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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