18 terrorists 'neutralized' this week in Turkey, N Iraq

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Turkey in January launched a separate military operation in northern Syria's Afrin region to sweep Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters from its southern border.

On Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said 3,171 YPG militants had been "neutralized" since the beginning of the operation, meaning they had either surrendered or been killed or captured.

More than one million people are now in Afrin city and villages around it after fleeing the fighting, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor group. The country considers the YPG a terror organization but its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally, the United States, backs the fighters to combat Daesh group. The operation was not to "occupy" but "liberate", he said, and then hand over to local residents.

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Turkey's president has criticized North Atlantic Treaty Organisation for not supporting the country's ongoing military operation against Syrian Kurdish fighters in Syria.

"In the Afrin region, the owners of the lands have started to come back", said Erdogan.

"With these things happening in Syria, when will you, NATO, take our side?" he said.

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American support for the terror group has long vexed Ankara as Washington views the PYD/PKK-led SDF as a "reliable partner" in its fight against Daesh and continues to provide it with arms and equipment in the face of strong objections by Turkey. Is this friendship? Is this North Atlantic Treaty Organisation unity? Turkey considers the YPG an extension of the PKK. "Are we not a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member?"

The 50,000-strong YPG has allied with the USA in eradicating the Islamic State group from northern Syria and have been armed by the U.S. since May 2017.

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