ADDS GENERAL STAFF STATEMENT AND BACKGROUND
By Diyar Guldogan
ANKARA (AA) - At least 597 PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists have been "neutralized" since the beginning of Operation Olive Branch in Syria, the Turkish General Staff said on Monday.
On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch along with Free Syrian Army (FSA) to clear PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin, northwestern Syria.
Turkish authorities often use the word "neutralized" in their statements to imply that the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.
In a statement, the military said Turkish Armed Forces had destroyed 44 terrorist targets in airstrikes that were carried out overnight.
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.
The military also said only terror targets were being destroyed and the "utmost importance and sensitivity" were being used to not harm civilians.
It added that four Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army members were slightly injured during the operation.
The operation "successfully" continues as planned, said the statement.
Afrin has been a major hideout for the PYD/PKK since July 2012, when the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without putting up a fight.