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Turkey: 3747 terrorists 'neutralized' in Afrin offensive

Turkey: 3747 terrorists 'neutralized' in Afrin offensive

Turkish-backed Syrian opposition fighters are seen in the village of Jamanli, northeast of the Syrian city of Afrin, on March 3, 2018, as smoke billows in the background from a reported Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) location.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said "communist, traitor youth" tried to disturb a local stand operated by religious and nationalist youth at Istanbul's Bogazici University.

Erdogan was referring to Operation Olive Branch which began on January 20 to clear PKK/YPG and Daesh terrorists from the region, successfully liberating the town centre of Afrin on March 18.

"The US needs to hand over Manbij from YPG/PKK terrorists to its true owners, the Syrian people", Erdogan said.

However, US military support for the terrorist PYD/PKK group in Manbij has strained ties between Ankara and Washington and has led to fears of potential clashes on the ground between troops of the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, since there are roughly 2,000 US troops in the city. He added that the stolen items had been recovered and would be returned to their owners.

Turkey hasn't tolerated criticism of its military offensive to oust a Syrian Kurdish militia that it considers a terror group.

The US had promised to meet Ankara's demands, primarily to stop arming the PKK/YPG and ensure its withdrawal to the east of the Euphrates, but has not delivered on the promises so far. Cooperating with YPG, however, forms an integral part of the US-led fight against "Islamic State".

Reacting to the operation, Damascus has condemned it as a violation of Syria's sovereignty.

Turkish Army has said efforts are underway to help civilians return home in a secure manner.

Almost 170,000 people have fled after a Turkish-led assault on the Kurdish-majority Syrian city of Afrin, the United Nations said Friday. "The estimate now is 167,000 people have been displaced by hostilities in Afrin district", Jens Laerke, spokesman for the United Nations humanitarian agency, said in Geneva.

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