Turkish soldiers killed during Afrin operation

Turkish soldiers killed during Afrin operation

Turkey launched the offensive on January 20 to remove members of the Islamic State and the People's Protection Units militia, which it considers terrorists.

Ankara says 41 of its soldiers have been killed in Syria's northwestern region of Afrin, where the Turkish military has been engaged in a ground operation against US-backed Kurdish militants for more than a month.

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.

Three Kurdish fighters were also killed in the strikes late Thursday on the village of Jamma in the enclave on the Turkish border, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

According to the report a Turkish helicopter sent to rescue the wounded had to turn back after being hit, while the area was shelled to allow an evacuation.

The sources added that the suspects had also insulted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says that close to 150 civilians have been killed since the start of Turkish offensive, though Turkey has disputed such claims.

The Turkish warplanes had struck pro-regime forces that entered Afrin last week in support of the Kurdish YPG militia, according to Reuters.

Turkey forcefully rejected on Wednesday Western calls to suspend its offensive in northwest Syria, saying the United States misunderstood the extent of a U.N. ceasefire resolution and accusing France of giving "false information" on the issue.

Ankara says the YPG is a "terrorist" extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) which has waged a three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state.

This is while USA officials regard the YPG as the most effective fighting force against the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in northern Syria, and have substantially increased their weaponry and technology support to the group.

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