1266 militants 'neutralized' in Turkey's Afrin operation

Monday, 12 Feb, 2018

Two Turkish troops were killed Saturday when their helicopter crashed in Afrin, Syria, near the Turkish border, Turkish state news agency Anadolu reported.

At least 1,266 People's Protection Units (YPG) militants have been "neutralized" since the beginning of "Operation Olive Branch" in Syria's Afrin district, the Turkish General Staff said on February 11. "We have two martyrs", Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said in televised remarks.

Turkey on January 20 launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin, northwestern Syria. "The no-holds-barred nature of this assault is evidenced by reports that at least nine medical facilities, six of them in Idlib and three in eastern Ghouta, were hit by airstrikes", said High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein in a statement issued by his office (OHCHR).

Ankara views the YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), the Kurdish militant group it regards as a terrorist organisation. Another 11 soldiers were injured after the offensive's bloodiest day for Turkish military personnel, the army said.

Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist group, but it is a key component of US -backed forces battling Islamic State in Syria.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) accountable for the incident, promising a harsh response.

"Of course, these kinds of things will happen. We will have losses, but we will cause the other side to have losses as well", he said in a televised speech, vowing to make the perpetrators pay "a much heavier price".

"A little while ago, one of our helicopters was downed", Erdogan said.

The Turkish military says it has killed, wounded or captured more than 1,200 YPG fighters.

It was not immediately possible to verify this figure.

Turkey on Jan 20. launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PKK/PYD/YPG/KCK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin.

"This is a threat to Turkey which Ankara has the natural right to fight under worldwide and domestic law", Yildirim added.