Turkish and Free Syrian Army forces have so far liberated 950 square kilometers (590 square miles) during the Turkish-led counter-terrorist operation in Syria's northwestern Afrin region, Turkey’s president said on Sunday.
“To date 950 square kilometers have been taken under our control," President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the 6th provincial congress of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party in the Black Sea province of Bolu.
Erdogan said that the ongoing operation is not to “occupy” the region but to liberate it from YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists, and then hand it over to the people living there.
"In the Afrin region, the owners of the [liberated] lands have started to come back," he said.
Erdogan added that a total of 3,300 YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists have been "neutralized" in Afrin since the start of Operation Olive Branch in northwestern Syria.
Turkish authorities often use the word "neutralized" in their statements to imply the terrorists in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.
Erdogan said that Turkey shares a 911-kilometer (566-mile) border with Syria, adding that it has been harassed by both terrorist groups and the Syrian regime.
"With these things happening in Syria, when will you, NATO, take our side?" he said.
In mid-February, Turkey marked 66 years of NATO membership.
Under NATO charter, an attack on one of the alliance’s members is an attack on them all.
Turkey says that is also defending NATO's southern borders through Operation Olive Branch, but the alliance has failed to support it.