8 more villages liberated, 1.5 km left to reach Syria's Afrin, Turkish military says

emAA File Photo/em
AA File Photo

Eight more villages have been liberated from terrorists and at least 3,347 terrorists have been "neutralized" in Operation Olive Branch in Syria's Afrin, the Turkish military said Monday.

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 Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and Free Syrian Army (FSA) liberated four more villages from the PKK-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG) terrorists on Monday morning, while there are only 1.5 kilometers left for the Turkish troops and the FSA fighters to reach Afrin town center.

The villages -- including Zindakan, Qila, Kumush Burj, Qibar -- were cleared of the terrorists, Anadolu Agency correspondents on the field reported.

Later in the day, TSK announced the joint forces had liberated another four villages: Jalama village in southwest Afrin, Barlana and Habol in the northwest of Afrin, and Al Qarah.

Since the launch of the operation, Turkish military and the FSA liberated 197 locations including five town centers, 159 villages, 33 strategic mountains and hills and one YPG/PKK base.

According to Anadolu Agency's correspondent, a total of 1,100 square kilometers were cleared from terror threat during the operation.

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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