850 sq km now under control in Afrin: President Erdoğan

Turkish and Free Syrian Army forces have so far liberated 850 square kilometers (328 square miles) during the Turkish-led counter-terrorist operation in Afrin, Syria, Turkey's president said on Saturday.

"To date 850 square kilometers have been taken under our control. The target is to get 2,000 square kilometers under our control," Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told a public rally in the southern Mersin province.

"Our concern isn't the land; our concern is to clear terrorists from there. Where there are terrorists, we'll be there," he added.

Later, speaking at a ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party provincial congress, Erdoğan announced that 3,213 terrorists have been "neutralized" since the launch of Operation Olive Branch in Afrin.

Turkish officials often use the word "neutralized" in their statements to imply the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.

He added that Turkey will help Afrin to rebuild and repair, including its electricity, water, education, and healthcare systems, just like it did in Jarablus, Ar-rai, Azaz and Al-Bab, after clearing these Syrian cities of Daesh terrorists during Turkey's Operation Euphrates Shield.

Euphrates Shield, which began in August in 2016 and ended in March 2017, eliminated terrorists along the Syrian border.

"Then we will also clear Manbij, Ayn al-Arab, Tal Abyad, Resulayn and Kamisli of terrorists," Erdoğan added, naming other Syria cities near Turkey's borders.

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