At least 3,213 terrorists have been "neutralized" since the beginning of Operation Olive Branch in northwestern Syria's Afrin, the 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.
The military also announced that seven more villages in northwestern Syria's Afrin region had been liberated from YPG/PKK terrorists.
According to Anadolu Agency correspondents on the ground, the villages of Babak Ushagi, Qorta, and Qasha in Bulbul, northwestern Afrin were cleared of terrorists.
Later on Saturday, four more villages -- the villages of Kafr Rum and Qurt Qulaq in the northeastern Sharan district, Zellaka in the southwestern Jinderes district, and Kfar Zeit in Afrin's city center -- were liberated by the Turkish military and FSA forces.
Since the beginning of the operation, the Turkish military and Free Syrian Army have liberated 171 locations, including five town centers, 135 villages, 31 strategic areas, and one YPG/PKK base.
On Friday, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that Turkish-backed troops had surrounded the Afrin city center and were ready to enter at any moment.
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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