Eight Turkish soldiers killed, 13 wounded in Afrin operation in Syria: Army
Eight Turkish soldiers were killed in Syria’s northwestern district of Afrin late on March 1 as the Turkish-led “Operation Olive Branch” continues in the region, according to two separate Turkish General Staff statements.
In the statements, the Turkish army said 13 soldiers were wounded during the operation.
“As part of the operations in Afrin, five of our heroic comrades have fallen as martyrs and seven were wounded,” the military said in the first statement.
Shortly after, it issued a second statement in which it announced that three more soldiers had been killed and six more were wounded, without giving details of the circumstances.
“May God grant peace to our martyred soldiers in Afrin. All my condolences to their loved ones,” Turkish Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said on Twitter.
Doğan News Agency reported that intense fighting had broken out in the afternoon between Turkish special forces units recently deployed in Afrin and People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants, who mounted an ambush with the help of tunnels.
According to the report, a Turkish helicopter sent to rescue the wounded had return after being hit, while the area was shelled to allow an evacuation.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was informed of the incident during a visit to Senegal.
Ankara considers the YPG an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and hence a terrorist organization.
Turkey launched “Operation Olive Branch” on Jan. 20 along with elements of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to remove YPG militants from Afrin.
According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region as well as “protect Syrians from terrorist cruelty and oppression.”
Some 41 Turkish soldiers and 116 Free Syrian Army (FSA) militants have been killed since the start of “Operation Olive Branch” into Afrin, Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli said on March 2, speaking at the graduation ceremony of the National Defense University in Istanbul.