2,612 terrorists 'neutralized' in Syria's Afrin, military says

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ISTANBUL
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At least 2,612 terrorists have been "neutralized" in Operation Olive Branch in Syria's Afrin, the Turkish military said Sunday.

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.

Turkey's Anadolu Agency (AA) reported that Turkish and FSA forces have liberated Haji Khalil, a village in Raju, Afrin, from the PPK-linked Democratic Union Party's (PYD) armed wing, People's Protection Units (YPG).

Meanwhile, Turkish forces also took control of Shaykh al-Hadid located west of Afrin. This was the third urban center, after Bulbul and Raju, liberated in Operation Olive Branch since it was launched little over a month ago.

Since Feb. 26, a crescent-shaped corridor, stretching along northwestern Idlib province and Aleppo province's Azaz district, has cut terrorists' connection with Turkey's border.

Since the launch of the operation, Turkish military and the FSA liberated 129 locations including three town centers, 98 villages, 21 strategic mountains and hills and one YPG/PKK base.

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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