Five Turkish Servicemen Killed During Ankara's Op in Afrin - Defense Minister

31 January 2018, 05:03 | Isaac Mcdaniel

Turkish Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalın

Turkish Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalın

"The Kurds always wanted good relations" with the regime, said Kurdish affairs specialist Mutlu Civiroglu, stressing that the minority never pursued fully-fledged independence.

Russia, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad , says it invited 1,600 representatives to the Syrian Congress of National Dialogue, but so far only the government and opposition representatives tolerated by Damascus have shown up.

"We go through great measures to deconflict", he said.

Lavrov said that Moscow has worked to have this conference represent more Syrians, adding that "only the Syrian people have the right to determine their future".

Last week, United Nations -sponsored talks in Vienna, Austria, ended as in many previous rounds with accusations hurled back and forth to the media between the representatives of the warring sides in Syria.

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Turkish authorities have cracked down on any expression of dissent over the air and ground offensive against the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia in Syria's Afrin region.

Addressing parliament on January 30, he said there were no civilian casualties as a result of "Operation Olive Branch", conducted by the Turkish army and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) with aims to remove the People's Protection Units (YPG) from the northwestern district of Syria.

Turkey, which considers the YPG to be a terrorist organisation, has called on Washington to end its military support for the group and to pull back from the Manbij region where some of its troops are stationed.

"We've had 29 martyrs, five from the Turkish army and 24 from the FSA, since the start of the Afrin operation", the minister said. More than 300 people have been detained for social media posts criticising the campaign since it began 10 days ago.

Some 649 militants have been "neutralized" since the beginning of Turkey's Operation Olive Branch in Syria's northwestern district of Afrin, the Turkish Armed Forces announced on January 30, Hurriyet Daily News reports.



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