Nearly half of Afrin operation area under control: Bozdağ

The Turkish deputy prime minister and government spokesman said Monday almost half of the area that Operation Olive Branch aims to secure in Syria's Afrin was now under the Turkish military's control.

Speaking after a Cabinet meeting in Ankara, Bekir Bozdağ said: "In Operation Olive Branch, so far 112 villages, 30 critical positions, and a total of 142 spots have been taken under control."

The government spokesman said 702 of 1,920 square kilometers (271 of 741 square miles) had so far been taken under control in Syria's Afrin region.

He also said 2,795 terrorists have been "neutralized" since the start of the operation.

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

On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to clear YPG/PKK and 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 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.

"So far the Daesh terrorist organization has carried out 20 terrorist attacks in our country, 310 people have lost their lives, and 967 people have been wounded," Bozdağ said.

Bozdağ went on to highlight Turkey's fight against Daesh, noting that between 2011-2018, 4,043 Daesh terrorists had been arrested in Turkey, 1,858 of whom are foreigners.

Turkish security forces have been involved in a long-running campaign to thwart Daesh attacks.

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