Turkish Forces Kill About 600 Militants Since Start of Afrin Op - General Staff

© AP PhotoPro-Turkey Syrian fighters and Turkish troops secure the Bursayah hill, which separates the Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin from the Turkey-controlled town of Azaz, Syria, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018
Pro-Turkey Syrian fighters and Turkish troops secure the Bursayah hill, which separates the Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin from the Turkey-controlled town of Azaz, Syria, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018 - Sputnik International
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ANKARA (Sputnik) - The Turkish Armed Forces have killed 597 militants belonging to the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), People's Protection Units (YPG) and Daesh since the beginning of the operation in Syria's northern district of Afrin, the Turkish General Staff said in a statement on Monday.

"As part of the operation Olive Branch, the Turkish Air Force has destroyed hideouts, fire nests, and weapon depots of PYD, YPG, and IS [Daesh], with 25 military aircraft having participated in the operation and successfully returning to the air bases. Forty terrorists were killed, with the total number of terrorists killed reaching 597 since the beginning of the operation," the statement read, adding that the operation continued as planned.

READ MORE: Kurdish SDF Report of Turkish Airstrikes on Dam in Afrin

Turkey has been conducting the Olive Branch military operation in the Kurdish-dominated Syrian town of Afrin since January 20. The town is controlled by the US-backed Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which is considered to be affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), designated as a terrorist group by Turkey and several other countries.

A plume of smoke rises on the air from inside Syria, as seen from the outskirts of the border town of Kilis, Turkey, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 - Sputnik International
Turkish General Staff Reports Destruction of 42 Targets in Afrin Saturday
Ankara has stressed that the advance is not aimed against the Syrian government, calling the territorial integrity of Syria its mutual goal with Damascus.

Damascus has, however, denounced the operation as a violation of Syria's sovereignty. In its turn, Russia has called upon all parties involved to exercise restraint and respect Syria’s territorial integrity.

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