4,406 terrorists ‘neutralized’ during Afrin operation

KAYSERI, Turkey (AA) - At least 4,406 terrorists have been neutralized" since the launch of Operation Olive Branch in Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday.

Speaking during an ordinary congress of his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party's women branch in central Kayseri province, Erdogan said the military operations would continue against all terror groups.

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

On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to clear YPG/PKK-Daesh terrorists from Afrin, northwestern Syria.

According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey's borders and the region as well as to protect Syrians from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.

The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey's rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN charter, and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.

Election challenge

Addressing a large crowd weeks before the upcoming presidential election, Erdogan also ensured that he and his ruling AK Party would always continue to serve the country and the nation.

Erdogan also challenged the opposition candidates, saying they would not have gained success even if the election had been held in November next year.

Recalling the mega projects that his government undertook for over a decade, Erdogan said: "Everyone should show what they got. Here's the challenge, here's the nation."

The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and AK Party are set to enter the June 24 parliamentary and presidential polls as an electoral alliance.

The MHP-AK Party alliance is supporting Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is seeking his second term as president.

Erdogan has served as president since 2014 -- Turkey's first popularly elected president. Before that, he served as prime minister, from 2003 to 2014.

Should he win the June election, Erdogan would be Turkey's first leader under the presidential system, doing away with the prime minister's post, among other changes.

Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has nominated Muharrem Ince as its presidential candidate for the June 24 early elections.

In a rally in the capital Ankara, CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu formally announced the CHP's choice of Ince as their presidential hopeful.

The opposition IYI (Good) Party is circulating a petition to make party leader Meral Aksener their candidate in the June 24 presidential elections.

Aksener is targeting 100,000 signatures to be a presidential candidate in the upcoming elections.

The opposition Felicity (Saadet) Party declared its Chairman Temel Karamollaoglu as their presidential candidate, while the opposition People's Democratic Party (HDP) announced jailed ex-Chairman Selahattin Demirtas as its presidential candidate.

In November 2016, Demirtas together with 12 HDP lawmakers were arrested on terror-related charges. Demirtas remains in custody pending trial.

Source: Anadolu Agency