2,795 militants ‘neutralized’ so far in Afrin operation: Turkish deputy PM
Some 2,795 People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants have been “neutralized” in Turkey’s ongoing cross-border operation in Syria’s northwestern Afrin district, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesman Bekir Bozdağ said on March 5 following a cabinet meeting in Ankara.
The Turkish military had earlier on the same day put the number at 2,777.
“In ‘Operation Olive Branch,’ so far 112 villages, 30 critical positions, and a total of 142 spots have been taken under control,” Bozdağ added.
Turkey launched “Operation Olive Branch” on Jan. 20 along with elements of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to remove the YPG from Afrin.
Turkey sees the YPG as a terror group for its ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a terror group 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 said on March 2 that 41 Turkish soldiers and 116 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.
20 PKK militants 'neutralized'
Meanwhile, 20 PKK members were “neutralized” in counter-terrorism operations across Turkey between Feb. 26 and March 5, the Interior Ministry stated on March 5.
Turkish authorities often use the word “neutralized” in their statements to imply that the militants in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.
The ministry said in a statement that security forces had carried out 1,079 counter-terrorism operations in the past week.
The ministry stated that seven of the neutralized militants were killed and five were captured while eight surrendered to the authorities.
Tarık Şen, a regional “manager” of the PKK, was among the neutralized militants, the ministry added.