Turkish military: One Turkish soldier killed in Afrin operation

The Turkish military stated on Sunday that one soldiers was killed during an operation in the Afrin region of Syria. The military stated on Saturday that a total of 32 military members have been killed, 183 others have been injured since the beginning of the operation on Jan. 20.

The Turkish General Staff said in a statement on Sunday that a total of 2,018 PYD/PKK and alleged ISIL militants have been “neutralized” since the launch of Operation Olive Branch in Syria’s northwestern Afrin region on Jan. 20. Turkish authorities often use the word “neutralized” in their statements to imply the militants in question either surrendered or were killed or captured.

However, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), in a report on Saturday said that 259, including 40 Turkish soldiers were killed during the operation since Jan. 20. SOHR reporting said that 243 YPG and the self-defense forces were killed during Turkish shellings and attacks in Afrin countryside. The Turkish military announced that 32 Turkish soldiers were killed and 183 were injured.

Speaking to pro-Kurdish Fırat News Agency about civilian casualties on Thursday, Afrin Canton Health Council Co-chair Ancela Resho has stated that during the 34 days of the Turkish military operation against Afrin, 176 civilians, including 27 children and 21 women, have been killed, while 484 civilians were wounded, among them 60 children and 71 women.

Kurdish Red Crescent (Heyva Sor) has also announced on Wednesday that Turkish military’s shelling has killed 17 women and wounded 44 women seriously in Afrin province of northern Syria.

Meanwhile, forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad will enter the city of Manbij in the coming days, following an agreement with the Kurdish dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an anonymous Kurdish official told Russian news site Sputnik on Saturday.

The news comes following developments last week that saw pro-government Syrian forces enter Afrin to help Kurdish forces there resist a Turkish military campaign that began over a month ago. Damascus has expressed opposition to the Turkish operation, saying it violates Syrian sovereignty.

Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, meanwhile, has often threatened to expand the operation to areas of Syria further east that are also under the SDF control, including Manbij. Turkey considers the SDF, and other Kurdish groups operating in Syria as terrorist organisations.

Whilst the arrival of pro-Syrian government forces in Manbij may deter Turkish plans, it would complicate US strategy in Syria, raising the possibility of further clashes with the US, which has soldiers stationed in the city alongside SDF fighters. Hundreds of pro-Syrian government forces, including Russians, were killed in US airstrikes on Feb. 7 in clashes around the oil-rich city of  Deir al-Zor in eastern Syria.

The Turkish military and Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters on Jan. 20 launched Operation Olive Branch in the Afrin region of Syria against the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which Turkey sees as the Syrian extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

President Erdoğan on Oct. 8 said Turkey would not allow a Kurdish corridor in Syria extending along the Turkish border to the Mediterranean.

Turkey with Free Syrian Army forces took control of the Jarablus and Al Bab areas in northern Syria during an operation against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant [ISIL]  militants between August 2016 and March 2017.

More than 70 soldiers were lost during Operation Euphrates Shield, which was evaluated as a strategic move to prevent unification of areas controlled by the Kurdish PYD.

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