By Muhammet Emin Avundukluoglu
The Turkish army and Free Syrian Army (FSA) have never harmed any civilian during ongoing Olive Branch Operation, National Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli said on Tuesday.
Speaking to lawmakers in the parliament in capital Ankara, Canikli said: "No civilian has been harmed in Operation Olive Branch of Turkish Armed Forces and the FSA."
No civilian casualties in the operation "show Turkish nations' sincerity and sensitivity" despite the terror group, which uses civilians as human shields, he said.
Canikli also said that so far there have been 29 martyrs in the Afrin operation, "five from Turkish army, 24 from the FSA".
He also reiterated that 649 PKK/PYD/YPG and Daesh terrorists had been neutralized during the operation.
"Turkish Air Forces destroyed 458 targets which were being used as shelters and ammunition depots. Within the ground operation, 4,370 targets were hit," he said.
Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 to clear PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin in northwestern Syria.
According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkish borders and the region as well as to protect the Syrian people from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.
The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council decisions, self-defense rights under the UN Charter and respect for Syria's territorial integrity.