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Turkish military says took full control of Syria’s Afrin from Kurdish militants

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Smoke billows following an explosion in the northwestern Syrian city of Afrin on March 18, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

The Turkish military says it has established full control over Syria’s Afrin town after more than two months of battles with the US-backed militants controlling Syria’s northern border regions.

“All villages have been cleared from terrorists. Afrin is under full control [of Turkish Armed Forces],” the General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces was quoted as saying by the NTV broadcaster.

The General Staff said a total of 3,733 “terrorists” had been “neutralized” since the start of the so-called Operation Olive Branch against Afrin, Turkish paper Yeni Şafak reported.

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

Neither Damascus nor the local officials have commented on the report so far.

Turkey began the operation on January 20 to cleanse the northern Syrian border of the US-backed Kurdish militants of the People's Protection Units (YPG), whom it associates with the homegrown Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighting for autonomy on Turkish soil.

The Turkish military says it has exercised “utmost care” not to harm civilians.

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based monitor, however, said earlier in the week that more than 280 civilians have been killed since the onset of the operation.

Damascus views the operation as an act of aggression and has called for the immediate withdrawal of the Turkish forces.

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