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Kurdish sniper claims first Turkey casualty in Ankara's Syria offensive Open in fullscreen

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Kurdish sniper claims first Turkey casualty in Ankara's Syria offensive

Turkey's new Syria offensive has strained ties with its NATO allies [Getty/ Archive]

Date of publication: 11 October, 2019

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Turkey's army has reported its first casualty in its assault on Kurdish forces in northern-western Syria, amid growing international condemnation of Ankara's new offensive.

Turkey on Friday said one of its soldiers was killed in northern Syria, marking the first such fatality in its offensive against Kurdish forces.

Turkish military officials said the soldier was killed by sniper fire shot from across the border in a Kurdish-controlled part of north-western Syria.

Three more soldiers were injured in the "operation region", the defence ministry said in a statement, after clashes with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

Fighting continues to rage in multiple locations along Syria’s northern border.

Sanctions 'on the table'

Turkey’s new assault on Kurdish forces has been condemned by a number of Ankara's NATO allies, who have expressed concern about civilians in the area.

France’s Europe minister said on Friday that EU sanctions against Turkey are "on the table", while Norway suspended the sale of arms to Ankara. Italy, France and the Netherlands have summoned their respective Turkish ambassadors to express their concern.

French President Emmanuel Macron earlier urged Turkey to end its operation as quickly as possible, saying the assault was putting "millions of people at humanitarian risk".

He added that the SDF is "responsible in front of the international community for helping [the Islamic State group] in build its Caliphate".

Refugee 'threat'

Turkish President Erdogan warned Europe not to call Turkey’s actions an “invasion”, threatening to “flood Europe” with 3 million refugees.

"Hey EU, wake up. I say it again: if you try to frame our operation there as an invasion, our task is simple, we will open the doors and send 3.6 million migrants to you," Erdogan said in a speech to his party.

In scenes all too familiar since the start of Syria's war in March 2011, civilians were seen abandoning their homes on Thursday, in vehicles or on foot with their belongings on their backs.

Read more: Thousands flee, dozens killed as Turkish assault on Syrian Kurds continues

The UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on Thursday estimated that 70,000 people have been newly displaced since Ankara launched its operation.

Erdogan said earlier that his forces had killed 109 “militants” so far, while suspected Kurdish strikes hit towns in southern Turkey, killing five civilians.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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