By Nilay Kar Onum
A total of 3,747 terrorists have been 'neutralized' since the start of the Turkish-led Operation Olive Branch in Syria's Afrin region, Turkish president said on Sunday.
Speaking at the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party's 6th ordinary provincial congress in Black Sea province of Giresun, Recep Tayyip Erdogan updated the figures of the terrorists neutralized during the operation.
Turkish officials often use the word "neutralized" in their statements to imply the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.
The Turkish president said 302 members of Free Syrian Army (FSA) have also been martyred since the launch of the operation.
He noted that 614 FSA fighters had embraced martyrdom during last year’s Operation Euphrates Shield.
Operation Euphrates Shield began in August 2016 and ended in late March 2017 to improve security, support coalition forces, and eliminate the terror threat along Turkey's borders.
According to Turkish military, Syria’s Afrin region has been taken under “complete” control. In a statement on Saturday, the army said efforts are in progress to help civilians return home in a secure way.
Turkish troops have also been continuing efforts to search and destroy hand-made explosives and mines planted by the terrorists in Afrin.
Operation Olive Branch was launched on Jan. 20 to clear YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorist groups from Afrin in northwestern Syria amid growing threats from the region.
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 "utmost care" is being taken to not harm civilians.