Turkish forces have killed at least 277 Kurdish fighters in a major military operation in northeast Syria, now in its third day, Turkey’s defence ministry says.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the offensive is aimed at removing Kurdish-led forces from the border area and creating a “safe zone” so millions of Syrian refugees can be returned.
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The move came after the United States announced it was withdrawing its troops from the region, leaving the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), its main ally in the battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) armed group, without US military support.
Turkey’s defence ministry confirmed the first fatality among Turkey’s soldiers on Friday, while heavy clashes between Turkish forces and the SDF are under way in the Syrian border towns.
Here are the latest updates:
Friday, October 11
Turkey defence ministry: 277 ‘terrorists’ killed in offensive
The Turkish defence ministry said 49 more “terrorists” were “neutralized” in the military operation, in reference to Syrian Kurdish fighters, putting the total number of Kurdish fighters killed since the offensive began at 277.
According to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), at least 16 of its members – along with six additional fighters of unknown identity – were confirmed killed, and another 33 wounded.
Turkish soldier killed during Syria operation: defence ministry
Turkey has reported the first death of one of its soldiers in its operation in northern Syria, during clashes with a Kurdish militia following a day of heaving shelling on both sides.
Three more soldiers were injured in the “operation regioin”, the defence ministry said in a statement after the clashes on Thursday, without giving further detail.
Turkish soldier Ahmet Topçu lost his life during the Operation Peace Spring in Syria. pic.twitter.com/zrkOYyYLCZ
— dokuz8NEWS (@dokuz8_EN) October 11, 2019
Trump: Turkey-Kurdish mediation is one of three US options
US President Donald Trump said mediating a deal between Turkey and the Kurds is one of three options available to the United States after Turkey’s offensive in northeast Syria.
“We have one of three choices: Send in thousands of troops and win Militarily, hit Turkey very hard Financially and with Sanctions, or mediate a deal between Turkey and the Kurds!” Trump said in a Twitter post.
….We have one of three choices: Send in thousands of troops and win Militarily, hit Turkey very hard Financially and with Sanctions, or mediate a deal between Turkey and the Kurds!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 10, 2019
US: Turkey to be penalised if it acts ‘inhumanely’ against civilians in Syria
The United States will take penalising action against Turkey if it engages in any “inhumane and disproportionate” moves against civilians during its incursion into northeastern Syria, a senior State Department official said.
“That would include ethnic cleansing, it would include in particular indiscriminate artillery air and other fires directed at civilian population. That’s what we’re looking at right now. We haven’t seen significant examples of that so far,” the official said.