ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Turkish army on Monday revealed that 31 of its soldiers had been killed since the start of an offensive against Syrian Kurds in the northwestern enclave of Afrin in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava).
According to an official statement by the Turkish armed forces, another 143 soldiers were wounded in the ongoing campaign dubbed “Operation Olive Branch” by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
On Jan. 20, Turkish warplanes began striking Afrin as dozens of civilians, including children and women, were reported to have been killed by air raids and shelling.
President Erdogan claims the offensive is meant to clear Syria’s Kurdish-held northwest district of People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters who Turkey labels an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Ankara argues the US-backed Kurdish forces are a “terrorist organization” and has been incensed by Washington’s support for the YPG.
The US, which has backed the Kurds in the ongoing battle against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria, has called on Turkey to limit its military offensive in the Kurdish region.
On Saturday, Turkey suffered one of its most significant losses since launching the military campaign after announcing the death of 11 soldiers.
In response, Erdogan maintained that the losses were a part of the nature of war, vowing that his armed forces would be victorious.
“We are at war,” he said at an Istanbul provincial convention of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). “We will have losses. But, we will also make them have losses.”
Kurdistan 24 correspondent Akram Salih, who is covering developments in Afrin, says the Turkish army has not made any progress in their offensive which has now entered its fourth week.