CANAKKALE / ANKARA, Turkey
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday a total of 3,603 terrorists have been "neutralized" since the beginning of Operation Olive Branch in northwestern Syrian's Afrin.
Speaking in the northwestern province of Canakkale, Erdogan said the Turkish Armed Forces and Free Syrian Army have taken complete control of Afrin town center.
Also on Sunday, Turkish General Staff said in a statement 3,603 terrorists were "neutralized" in Afrin while 46 soldiers were martyred and 225 injured.
Turkish authorities often use the word "neutralized" in their statements to imply the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.
On Sunday, Turkey-backed forces also liberated Mabaatli town center, the last in the string of six town centers in Afrin.
Turkey on Jan. 20 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 Turkey's borders and the region as well as protect Syrians from terrorist cruelty and oppression.
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 has also said that only terrorist targets are being destroyed and "utmost care" is being taken to avoid harming any civilians.
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 a fight.
Reporting by Sibel Kurtoglu, Ozcan Yildirim:Writing by Sorwar Alam