At least 2,777 terrorists have been "neutralized" in Operation Olive Branch in Syria's Afrin, the Turkish military said Monday, whereas the Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters backed by Turkish forces liberated two villages.
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.
Turkish forces and FSA fighters liberate villages of Ballursanik and Alyiji from YPG/PKK terrorists located west of Afrin's Maydanki Dam, the Anadolu Agency reported.
Since the launch of the operation on Jan. 20, Turkish military and the FSA liberated 136 locations including three town centers, 101 villages, 22 strategic mountains and hills and two YPG/PKK bases.
Addressing reporters after the cabinet meeting in Ankara, Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said that almost half of the operation zone has been brought under control of Turkish forces.
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.