At least 1,551 terrorists have been "neutralized" since the beginning of Operation Olive Branch in northwestern Syria's Afrin, the Turkish military said Friday.
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.
So far, 32 Turkish soldiers have been killed in action, as well as nine civilians killed by indiscriminate shelling of Turkish border towns and cities by People's Protection Units (YPG) terrorists.
Meanwhile, Turkish military and Free Syrian Army (FSA) on Friday liberated two more villages in northwestern Syria from PKK/YPG terrorists. According to Anadolu Agency correspondents on the ground, the villages of Hassan Kalkawi and Jalma near Raju town in Afrin were cleared from terrorists during ongoing Operation Olive Branch.
Since the beginning of the operation on Jan. 20 to remove the PKK/PYD/YPG/KCK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin, 65 different strategic areas have been captured from the clutches of terrorists.
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 Democratic Unity Party (PYD) and its armed wing YPG since July 2012 when the Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without putting up a fight.