ANKARA — Turkey’s health minister said Friday that 14 Turkish soldiers and Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels were killed and another 130 people were wounded following Turkey’s incursion into Syria’s Afrin region. Speaking to reporters after visiting wounded soldiers in hospitals, Ahmet Demircan said three Turkish soldiers and 11 fighters from Turkey-backed FSA factions have been killed so far in clashes in northern Syria.
He said 130 people had been brought to Turkish hospitals and that 82 of them had been released after receiving treatment. None of the wounded were in critical condition, he said, adding that additional medical personnel were sent to the area. On Saturday, Turkey launched an offensive against the Kurdish YPG militia, which it views as a security threat, in Syria’s Afrin, opening a new front in the multi-sided Syrian civil war and further straining ties with its NATO ally Washington.
Dozens of combatants and more than two dozen civilians have been killed so far in the offensive, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, has said. The Turkish military said in a statement on Friday it had killed at least 343 militants in northern Syria since the operation started.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) however, a YPG-dominated umbrella group backed by the United States in the fight against Islamic State, has previously said that Turkey was exaggerating the number of the dead.