ANKARA, March 13 (Xinhua) -- Turkish military said Tuesday its army and allied Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces have encircled Syrian Kurdish-held city of Afrin, achieving a significant advance during its eight-week-long operation.
In a written statement released by Turkish General Staff on Tuesday, the military said it had controlled some important areas surrounding the city of Afrin, home to some 350,000 people and defended by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).
On Monday, Turkish army and FSA fighters advanced from different directions towards the Afrin city center, and the military announced only 1.5 km away from the city.
Thousands of civilians started to flee Afrin on Monday as they feared the deadly battles in the city, heading towards nearby areas controlled by the Syrian government.
Since the launch of the operation, a total of 3,393 terrorists have been "neutralized" during the operation, the Turkish military announced on Tuesday.
Moreover, Turkish military and the FSA have controlled 1,100 square km of land in Afrin, seizing 197 locations including five town centers, 159 villages, 33 strategic hills and one base of Kurdish militants, Anadolu agency reported Monday.
On Jan. 20, Turkey launched "Operation Olive Branch" to clear YPG militants from Afrin.
The YPG is regarded by Turkey as the Syrian affiliate of the the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a terrorist organization listed by Turkey, the United States and European Union.