TURKEY

3,400 terrorists neutralized in Syria's Afrin, Erdoğan says

"We have never targeted civilians. Afrin would have already fallen if we had targeted civilians." Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Operation Olive Branch, during his speech at the 4th International Benevolence Awards ceremony.

A total of 3,400 terrorists have been "neutralized" since the start of Operation Olive Branch in Syria's northwestern Afrin region, the president said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the 4th International Benevolence Awards ceremony, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey aims to clear "all murderous terrorist groups" from Afrin, Manbij and north of Syria.

Turkish president emphasized that Turkey had never targeted civilians during its operation in Afrin.

"Afrin would have already fallen if we had targeted civilians," he said.

On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to clear YPG/PKK-Daesh terrorists from Afrin, northwestern Syria.

According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey's borders and the region as well as to protect Syrians from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.

The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey's rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN charter, and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.

The military also said only terror targets are being destroyed and that "utmost care" is being taken to avoid harming civilians.

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