On April 20, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that at least 4,250 terrorists had been neutralized in Syria’s Afrin region, the Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
“4,250 terrorists neutralized since start of Operation Olive Branch in Afrin,” Erdogan said speaking at 150th foundation anniversary of Bogazici University’s Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute in Istanbul
Turkish authorities use the word “neutralized” to imply that rebels in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.
Erdogan also recalled that a decision to hold presidential and parliamentary elections over a year ahead of schedule.
“With this snap election, we have the opportunity to abolish the bureaucratic oligarchy. This decision ruined many scenarios. We see the election as a decision to store energy for a great and strong Turkey.”
Highly likely that Erdogan and his party are willing to exploit the patriotic frenzy currently observed in Turkey after successful operations in Syria to achieve a decisive victory in the upcoming elections.
On January 20, 2017 Turkey launched the operation Olive Branch against Kurdish armed groups in the northwestern Syrian region of Afrin. On March 18, 2018 Turkish troops and Turkish-backed militants captured the Afrin center, which had been a major hideout for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) since 2012. Turkey affirmed that ISIS had been also operating in the region, but at the moment of the operation’s start there were no ISIS members there.
Despite the formal presence of Turkish troops in Afrin, the security situation there remains tense. YPG cells still operate in the area. For example, on April 19, the Turkish military said that its soldier had been killed when an explosive device went off during a security search in northwestern Syria.