Turkey neutralizes 4,500 terrorists in Afrin operation

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    Turkey has neutralized 4,500 terrorists during Operation Olive Branch in Syria's Afrin region, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday.

    Erdogan made the remarks during iftar in eastern Malatya province.

    He said Turkey also cleared the Daesh threat along the country's borders.

    "Our steps in the Operation Euphrates Shield and northern Syrian city of Jarabulus are obvious. We neutralized 3,000 Daesh terrorists," Erdogan said.

    Operation Euphrates Shield took place from August 2016 to March 2017 to eliminate terror threats along the Turkish border.

    The president said Turkey had inflicted the heaviest blow against the PKK terror group in history.

    "The mountains, where PKK terrorists once freely roamed, became these terrorists' grave. Turkish soldiers entered their dens. The terrorists escaped, our soldiers chased them. We neutralized 4,500 terrorists in Operation Olive Branch in Afrin," Erdogan said.

    He said there is now peace and security in Afrin, adding that Turkish, Kurdish, Arabs and Turkmen communities are living in peace and safety there.

    On March 18, Turkish-backed troops liberated the town center of Afrin, which had been a major hideout for the YPG/PKK terror group since 2012.

    Separately, Erdogan attended the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party's rally in Malatya.

    On May 27, the president previously announced that Turkey neutralized 4,480 terrorists in Syria’s Afrin since the launch of Operation Olive Branch.

    Turkish authorities often use the word "neutralized" in their statements to imply that the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.

    This January, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch in Afrin, northern Syria to clear terrorist groups from the area. After liberating the city of Afrin, Ankara said it might also extend its operation further east to Manbij, unless the YPG/PKK terrorist group leaves the strategically located city.

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