2,516 terrorists 'neutralized' in Operation Olive Branch in Syria's Afrin: military
At least 2,516 terrorists have been "neutralized" in Operation Olive Branch since it was launched in northwestern Syria's Afrin, the Turkish military said Saturday.
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.
Meanwhile, Turkish soldiers along with Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces backed by Special Forces teams of Turkish national police and gendarmerie captured the town center of Raju, a strategic location district from PKK affiliated People's Protection Forces (YPG), terrorists.
Raju, located 25 kilometers northwest of Afrin town center, is one of the five towns located in Afrin district. Clashes continue at Raju as Turkish forces thwart a few resisting terrorists, while mines are being searched and swept.
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.