At least 1,528 terrorists have been "neutralized" since the beginning of Operation Olive Branch in northwestern Syria's Afrin, the Turkish military said Thursday.
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) uses the term "neutralized" 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.
The military said in a statement that Turkish jets and ground forces took part in counter-terrorism operations overnight, neutralizing 43 terrorists.
The Turkish military and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) five more villages were liberated from the, the TSK said later Thursday.
The villages of Diwan, Durakli, Karri, Shadiya and Sharbanli were cleared from terrorists, the Turkish army added.
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 PKK's Syrian affiliate the People's Protection Units (YPG) since July 2012 when the Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without putting up a fight.