The Turkish military and Free Syrian Army (FSA) announced Thursday that they had liberated 15 more villages in northwestern Syria from the rule of the PKK-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG).
According to Anadolu Agency correspondents on the ground, the villages of Kafr Shil, Birka, Ali Jaro, Humuraju, Korzlu, Juqur, Naz, Zarkanlı, Balal, Kilanlı, Barakash, Kovanlı, Jalkama, Jarkhatlı and Jakanlı in Afrin were cleared of terrorists during the ongoing Operation Olive Branch.
A strategically important hill with altitude of 883 meters was also cleared of terrorists.
At least 3,524 terrorists have been "neutralized" in Operation Olive Branch in Syria's Afrin, the Turkish military also said Thursday.
Turkish authorities often use the word "neutralized" in their statements to imply the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.
Meanwhile, new footage taken by drones exposed that People's Protection Units (YPG) terrorists are continuing to prevent civilians from leaving Afrin town center by digging ditches and using heavy construction equipment and vehicles to block their exits, as the province is being cleansed of terrorists by the military and the FSA.
In a video released by the Turkish military Thursday, Turkish jets are seen striking a bulldozer placed by YPG terrorists on a road to dig ditches and block civilians from escaping the town center.
Since the launch of the operation, the Turkish military and FSA have liberated 249 locations, including 208 villages and 41 strategic mountains and hills. Turkish and FSA forces have reached Afrin city's border.
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.