UPDATES WITH MARTYRDOM AND INJURIES OF TURKISH SOLDIERS, FREE SYRIAN ARMY MEMBERS
By Ali Kemal Akan and Esin Isik
ANKARA (AA) - A total of 447 PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists have been "neutralized" since the beginning of Operation Olive Branch in northwestern Afrin region of Syria, Turkish military said on Saturday.
The military generally uses the term "neutralize" to signify that the targets were killed.
According to a statement issued by the Turkish General Staff, the army “neutralized” 53 PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists alone on Saturday.
The statement said 22 Turkish jets safely returned to their bases after destroying 42 targets -- used as weapon pits, shelters, and ammunition depots by the PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorist groups.
It added two Turkish soldiers were martyred, while 11 others were wounded with no life threatening injuries in Saturday’s clashes with terrorists.
Two members of the Free Syrian Army were also martyred and four others injured, according to the statement.
Operation Olive Branch is "successfully continuing as planned," it added.
The military asserted that it was showing utmost care in order not to harm any civilians during the operation.
On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin.
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’s decisions, self-defense rights under the UN charter and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.
Afrin has been a major hideout for the PYD/PKK since July 2012 when the Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without putting up a fight.