MİDDLE EAST

Idlib, Manbij to follow Turkey's Afrin op, says Erdoğan

Editor / Internet Yeni Şafak

A total of 3,731 terrorists have been “neutralized” since the start of Operation Olive Branch in Afrin, northwestern Syria, Turkey’s president said on Friday.

Addressing a gathering ahead of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party’s district congress in Istanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the number of “neutralized” terrorists in Afrin was increasing.

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

In a bid to reiterate Turkey’s decisive fight against terrorists, Erdoğan also said the country's counterterrorism fight would not end with Afrin.

“It will be followed by Idlib and Manbij [Syria],” he added. 'We don’t have to be friends with everybody, but we can be allies with everybody compatible with our interests' Turkish President said.

Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 to clear terrorist groups from Afrin in northwestern Syria amid growing threats from the region.

On Sunday, Turkish-backed troops liberated the town of Afrin, which had been a major hideout for the PYD/PKK since 2012.

In the face of persistent smear campaigns against the operation, the Turkish General Staff has repeatedly said that the objective of the operation is to "establish security and stability along Turkey's borders and the region as well as protect Syrians from terrorist cruelty and oppression".

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