Turkish soldiers killed in Syria's Afrin

Sunday, 04 Mar, 2018

Eight Turkish soldiers were killed fighting in northern Syria on Thursday, the military said.

The Turkish military declined to comment on the report, but the Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Friday that Turkish attack helicopters had killed nine YPG fighters in the west of Afrin. PKK has fought for independence in South-Eastern Turkey since 1978 but the YPG has denied any links to the group. A Turkish flag now flutters above a former YPG watchtower.

The Saturday attack was the third assault by Turkish jets against pro-government forces in Afrin over the past two days, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said. The forces have also reportedly captured the villages of Ramadiye and Hamilek to the south-west of Afrin during the offensive. To the east lies a Syrian territory controlled by Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighters.

According to Turkey, the United Nations ceasefire resolution is meant to provide humanitarian and medical relief to the battered Syrian enclave of Eastern Ghouta, the target of a five-year siege by the Syrian government.

The Syrian government deployed fighters to the enclave a month later after the Kurds called for help.

Near the capital, Damascus, a five-hour truce went into effect on Friday, the fourth this week, with no civilians leaving the city's rebel-held suburbs known as eastern Ghouta.

Canikli further said that 116 members of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) militant group, which has joined Turkish troops in their campaign against members of the Kurdish People's Defense Units (YPG).

The Security Council voted unanimously on February 24 for a 30-day cease-fire across Syria to allow for the delivery of humanitarian aid amid Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's weeklong assault on the rebel enclave of Ghouta that has killed nearly 600 people, a quarter of them children.

Syrian government and Russian officials accuse the rebels of firing at a corridor set up for evacuation, preventing civilians from leaving. An elderly Pakistani couple has managed to leave after negotiations.

The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey's rights based on global law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN charter, and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.