Three soldiers were killed Thursday during ongoing mine clearing activities by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in northwestern Syria's Afrin, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said.
Speaking at an event in Ankara, Yıldırım said that the soldiers died after improvised explosive devices (IEDs) planted by terrorists in the region detonated.
Turkish and Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces continue efforts to safely remove mines and IEDs from the liberated areas of the Afrin operation.
As part of Operation Olive Branch, launched Jan. 20 to clear the PKK's Syrian-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG) and Daesh terrorists from the Afrin region, the TSK and the FSA entered Afrin town center and liberated it from terrorists on March 18.
According to the Turkish General Staff, Operation Olive Branch aims to establish security and stability along Turkey's borders and in the region as well as protect Syrians from terrorist cruelty and oppression.
The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey's rights based on international law, U.N. Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the U.N. charter, and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.
The military also said only terror targets are being destroyed and "utmost care" is being taken to avoid harming civilians.
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 a fight.