By Kubra Chohan
ANKARA (AA) - The president on Friday highlighted the achievements of the ongoing military operation in Syria’s northwestern Afrin region, revealing that 415 square kilometers (160 square miles) of territory was now under control and over 1,870 terrorists neutralized.
Speaking at a meeting with provincial heads of ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party in capital Ankara, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “We have neutralized 1,873 terrorists and have an area of 415 square kilometers under our control.”
Turkish authorities often use the word "neutralized" in their statements to imply the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.
“The operation will continue under a new strategy after Afrin city center is surrounded as soon as possible and the terrorists are cut off from outside contact,” Erdogan said.
He added Turkey expects the next part of the ongoing Afrin operation to proceed faster since strategic hills in the region were now largely cleared of terrorists.
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.