2 Turkish soldiers killed in Syria’s Afrin region

Two Turkish soldiers were killed on Monday in Syria’s northwestern Afrin region during a sweep and clear mission, according to a statement made by the Turkish army on Tuesday.

The Turkish General Staff said an improvised explosive device went off Monday as Turkish troops were clearing an area captured from People’s Protection Units (YPG)/Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants as part of Operation Olive Branch.

Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20 to remove YPG/PKK groups from Afrin in northwestern Syria. On March 18, Turkish-backed troops captured the town center, followed by security sweeps for mines, improvised explosive devices and hideouts.

Meanwhile, Turkish security forces “neutralised 23 militants” in anti-terror operations in the last 24 hours, the country’s Interior Ministry announced on Tuesday. Turkish authorities often use the word “neutralized” in their statements to imply that the militants in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.

According to the statement issued by the Interior Ministry, 11 militants were neutralized in southern Hatay province’s Amanos Mountains, seven in eastern Tunceli province and three more in southeastern Mardin province. Also, two more terrorists were neutralized in the Sason district of southeastern Batman province.

According to the Tunceli Governor’s Office, gendarmerie security units began air-supported operations against PKK militants in the Pulumur district on Tuesday. The Tunceli-Pulumur-Erzincan road was closed to traffic for security reasons. The operations in the region are continuing with additional units sent to the area.

The Turkish army also said on Tuesday that a total of 41 militants were “neutralized” during an air operation on March 22 in northern Iraq. The Turkish General Staff said in a statement that members of the PKK were neutralized in northern Iraq’s Qandil region.

Airstrikes on PKK targets in northern Iraq, where the PKK has its main base in the Qandil Mountain region near the Iranian border, have been carried out regularly since July 2015. The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU, resumed its armed campaign against Turkey in July 2015 after autocratic Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ended the peace process.

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