Rajo, town in Afrin in Syria’s north, ‘cleared of’ YPG militants: PM Yıldırım
Many of the areas over Turkey’s southeastern border, including the town of Rajo in northern Syria, have been cleared of “terrorists,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on March 3, referring to militants of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
“Afrin is surrounded. We have cleared all nearby border areas of terror nests,” Yıldırım said during the ruling Justice and Development’s (AKP) congress in the Central Anatolian province of Konya.
Yıldırım said Turkish soldiers, Special Forces, gendarmeries, police officers, and Free Syrian Army (FSA) elements are advancing “step by step” in Afrin.
“Our Turkish soldiers are making history in Afrin. They have also cleared Rajo of terrorists,” he added.
Turkey launched “Operation Olive Branch” on Jan. 20 along with elements of the FSA to remove YPG militants from Afrin.
Turkey considers the YPG as a terrorist group due to its ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a terror organization by Turkey, the U.S., and the European Union.
According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation inside Syria aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region as well as “protect Syrians from terrorist cruelty and oppression.”
Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli stated on March 2 that 41 Turkish soldiers and 116 Free Syrian Army (FSA) militants have been killed since the start of “Operation Olive Branch.”
Another 119 have been wounded, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on March 3.
The Turkish General Staff stated on early March 3 that 2,434 militants have been “neutralized” since the start of the cross-border operation. Later in the day, the number rose to 2,516, the army said.
The authorities use the word “neutralized” in statements to imply that the militants in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.