Turkish air strike kills pro-government gunmen in northern Syria

Pakistan       by Haider Ali Sindhu | Published

According to the report, Turkish army shelled the battle area to allow the evacuation of wounded soldiers.

It has been listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

The death toll, released by the Turkish military staff in two separate statements, makes Thursday one of the deadliest days for Ankara since launching its offensive against the People's Protection Units (YPG) in Syria's Afrin region on 20 January.

Shortly after, it issued a second statement in which it announced that three more soldiers had been killed and six more were wounded, without giving details of the circumstances.

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During the Operation Olive Branch, 41 Turkish servicemen were killed, the Turkish media quoted the country's National Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli as saying March 2.

The Turkish army often uses the word neutralised in its statements to imply the militants were either killed, wounded or captured.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly said that Afrin should be cleared of "terrorists", and demanded the deployment of Turkish troops there during a speech back in November 2016.

A Syrian convoy of humanitarian aid has reached the northern district of Afrin, which has been the target of a Turkish offensive for more than a month.

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According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey's borders and the region as well as "protect Syrians from terrorist cruelty and oppression".

Another Turkish news agency, Dogan, reported that Turkish and allied forces had started an operation on Friday morning to take control of the town of Rajo in Afrin.

The Russia-ordered pause came after a UN Security Council resolution calling for a nationwide 30-day ceasefire failed to take hold.

Afrin has been a major hideout for the YPG since July 2012, when the Bashar al Assad's Syrian regime left the city to the group without a fight.

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