Eight Turkish soldiers killed in Syria, 13 wounded: army

Eight Turkish soldiers killed in Syria, 13 wounded: army
2 min read
02 March, 2018
Eight Turkish soldiers were killed and 13 wounded on Thursday as part of Ankara's cross-border offensive against a Kurdish militia in northwest Syria, the army said.

Eight Turkish soldiers were killed and 13 wounded on Thursday as part of Ankara's cross-border offensive against a Kurdish militia in northwest Syria, the army said.

The death toll, released by the Turkish military staff in two separate statements, makes Thursday one of the deadliest days for Ankara since launching its offensive against the People's Protection Units (YPG) in Syria's Afrin region on 20 January.

More than 140 civilians have died since Ankara began its campaign last month, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group.

Ankara denies the tally and has said it takes "utmost care" to avoid civilian casualties.

Since 20 January, thousands have fled Afrin, either to adjacent towns or regime-controlled areas.

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Fighting between Turkish-backed rebels and the YPG continued on Thursday, with a YPG spokesman insisting the Turkish campaign in the area would not succeed. "They won't be able to remain any part of our region," Birusk Hasakeh said.

On Wednesday, Amnesty International called reports of indiscriminate shelling by both sides "deeply troubling".

Ankara views the YPG as the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged a bloody insurgency against Turkey for nearly 35 years. Both the US and European Union classify the PKK as a "terrorist group".

But the YPG is also a key component of the US-backed Kurdish-Arab alliance fighting against the Islamic State group.

Last month, Ankara's plan to extend its campaign to nearby Manbij, where US troops are located, would have risked bringing the two NATO allies into direct conflict.

Turkey has recently criticised the US and France for suggesting a 30-day ceasefire passed at the UN Security Council following the Syrian regime's bombardment of Eastern Ghouta should include Afrin.

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