41 Turkish soldiers martyred since start of Syria op

Turkey's defense minister said Friday 41 Turkish troops have been martyred since the start of Operation Olive Branch in Syria's northwestern Afrin town.

Turkey launched the military operation on Jan. 20 to clear YPG/PKK-Daesh terrorists from the area.

Speaking at a graduation ceremony at Istanbul's National Defense University -- Turkey's newly established military academy -- Nurettin Canikli said a total of 116 fighters from the opposition Free Syrian Army have also been martyred.

Canikli put the total number of "neutralized" YPG/PKK-Daesh terrorists at 2,295.

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

"Ninety-five residential areas on a 615 square-kilometer land and 28 critical positions have been taken under control," he added.

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 terrorist oppression and cruelty.

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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