More than 30 Turkish soldiers killed in the offensive against Afrin
31 Turkish soldiers have been killed since Turkey started the military campaign against Kurdish-controlled areas in Northern Syria in January.
The Turkish military confirms that a Turkish soldier was killed in a skirmish with the Kurdish YPG militia in the Afrin enclave on Sunday without releasing any further details.
Saturday eleven Turkish soldiers were killed, including two pilots who died when a military helicopter was shot down. It is the bloodiest day of the Turkish military since the offensive against the YPG militia began on January 20th.
Turkish authorities also state that 1,266 YPG soldiers are “put out of play” in the same period. How many of those who are killed, injured or captured is not known.
The figures have not been confirmed by either the YPG militia or other Kurdish sources.
YPG controls several areas in Northern Syria bordering on Turkey. Ankara considers YPG to be the Syrian branch of the Kurdish PKK movement in Turkey and want all Kurds removed from its borders.
Turkish helicopter shot down in Syria
A Turkish military helicopter is shot down in Syria and the two pilots were killed, Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim confirms this.
Two Turkish helicopters who participated in the military campaign against the Kurdish militia in the north of Syria came under fire on Saturday. One of them was hit and shot down, according to Yildirim.
According to Turkish media, the helicopter was shot down over the Hatay Province, bordering on Turkey.
In January, Turkey launched a military campaign against the Afrin area in the northwest of Syria in an effort to drive the YPG militia out of the Kurdish-controlled enclave.
Turkey is considering the YPG militia as the PKK guerrillas Syrianbranch and has placed both groups on their list of terrorist organizations.
The United States and the EU also have PKK on their terrorist lists, but they have supported YPG in the fight against ISIL. The Americans were informed of Turkey’s plans in advance and have asked the country to show restraint in the attacks against Afrin.
Hundreds arrested in Turkey since the start of the Afrin offensive
449 people were arrested for spreading “terrorist propaganda” in social media after Turkey started its military campaign against the Syrian region of Afrin last month.
Offensive started January 20th. Since then, 449 people have been arrested for the spreading of “terrorist propaganda” in social media, according to a statement made by the Ministry of the Interior in Ankara.
Among the detainees are journalists from Kurdish media and doctors in the Turkish Medical Association’s board, the newspaper Cumhuriyet writes.
Eight members of the association are still in custody while three others were released last week after making a statement that the association condemns war because it poses a threat to the public health. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticizes the association and calls its leadership as ‘terrorist lovers’.
Erdogan has promised to squash all Kurdish-friendly demonstrations that are being held in protest against the Afrin offensive. Since the start of the offensive on January 20, 124 people have been arrested for participating in demonstrations against the offensive.
The offensive aims to drive the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia out of Afrin, an area that the group controls in the northwest of Syria. Turkey considers YPG to be a terrorist organization and accuses it of being in an allied of the PKK guerrilla on the Turkish side of the border.
Since the introduction of the state of emergency after the attempted coup d’Etat on July 15, 2016, Turkish authorities have been granted power to carry out mass arrests, among other measures to curb opposition.
Pro Kurd party in Turkey elects leaders
The pro Kurd HDP party in Turkey elects two leaders on Sunday. One will replace imprisoned leader, Selahattin Demirtas.
Demirtas is accused of having performed “terrorist propaganda” on behalf of the Kurdish Labour Party (PKK), which is banned in Turkey. He was arrested in November 2016 and risks up to 142 years in prison.
At the HDP party congress on Sunday it was announced that they would choose a man to replace Demirtas and woman to replace Serpil Kemalbay.
Earlier this week it became apparent that Sezai Temelli and Pervin Buldan have been nominated for the positions.
Several other HDP politicians were also arrested in the wake of the attempted coup in 2016. Additionally, 11,500 HDP members and followers were imprisoned without a charge brought against them, while 4,537 were formally charged with offenses.
© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today.