TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli said 41 Turkish army troops have been killed since the start of an aggression launched by Ankara against the northwestern Syrian region of Afrin.

There were 41 Turkish troops among the dead, Canikli said in a speech delivered at Istanbul National Defense University on Friday, NRT reported.

He further said that 116 members of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) militant group, which has joined Turkish troops in their campaign against members of the Kurdish People’s Defense Units (YPG), have been also killed so far.

The Turkish general said that 95 villages or hamlets had come under their control during the so-called Operation Olive Branch.

Ankara views the YPG as a terror organization and the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Ties between Ankara and Washington has further soured over the latter’s support for the Kurdish militants operating at Turkish doorstep.

Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch, its second military intervention in Syria since 2011, after Washington said it would set up a border force comprising 30,000 Kurdish militants near Turkish soil.

Turkey has warned that the Afrin offensive could expand to the nearby Syrian city of Manbij.

Syria has slammed both Turkish and US military activities on its soil as a violation of the Arab nation’s sovereignty.