The death toll for the Turkish troops reached 31 after the Turkey’s military announced on Sunday that yet another member of its forces lost his live in the flashpoint enclave of Afrin, some three weeks after Ankara waged “Operation Olive Branch” against Syria’s Afrin region in a bid to eliminate the US-backed “terrorist” YPG members.
Saturday, however, still stands as the deadliest day since the military intervention commenced on January 20 as up to 11 troopers lost their lives, two of whom were aboard a Turkish attack helicopter that crashed while on a mission over Afrin. Eleven Turkish soldiers also sustained injuries in the same day.
The YPG militants claimed they brought down the chopper, but Turkish officials did not confirm that account.
Ankara regards the YPG as a terrorist organization and the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The latter has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.
The YPG forms the largest part of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed anti-Damascus militant group.
Regarded by Ankara as a terrorist organization and the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the YPG forms the largest part of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed anti-Damascus militant group. The PKK has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.
Ankara, which has warned that the Afrin offensive could also expand to the nearby Syrian city of Manbij, has also been assisting militants from the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) to fight against the Kurdish fighters.
The Syrian government has already denounced the “brutal Turkish aggression” against Afrin, rejecting Ankara’s claim about having informed Damascus of the operation.
Operation Olive Branch in Afrin region is Turkey's second major military intervention in Syria during the unprecedented foreign-backed militancy that broke out in 2011.
In August 2016, Turkey began a unilateral military intervention in northern Syria, code-named Operation Euphrates Shield, sending tanks and warplanes across the border. Ankara claimed that its military campaign was aimed at pushing Daesh from Turkey's border with Syria and stopping the advance of Kurdish forces, who were themselves fighting Daesh.
Turkey ended its campaign in northern Syria in March 2017, but at the time did not rule out the possibility of yet another act of military offensive inside the Arab country.