Two more Turkish soldiers were killed yesterday in Turkey’s offensive against Kurdish militia inside Syria, the army said, bringing to 16 the number killed so far in the incursion.
Turkey on January 20 launched the “Olive Branch” operation against Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia which Ankara sees as a terror group and a threat to Turkish territory.
The Turkish army and allied Ankara-backed Syrian rebel forces are seeking to oust the YPG from its western border stronghold of Afrin but the operation so far has been marked by fierce clashes.
Five Turkish soldiers were also wounded in operations inside Syria yesterday, the army said in a statement. It did not give further details on the circumstances of the deaths and injuries.
The latest casualties come after seven Turkish troops were killed on Saturday, including five in a tank attack, the heaviest single-day loss of the campaign so far.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said yesterday said that 935 “terrorists have been neutralised” so far in the operation. It was not immediately possible to verify this figure.
Turkey says the YPG is an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which has waged a three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state. But the YPG has been working closely with the United States to fight the Islamic State group in Syria.
The offensive by Washington’s fellow Nato member Ankara on a US-allied force has even raised fears of a military confrontation between two alliance powers.
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