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Turkish General Staff: Over 1610 'neutralized' so far in Afrin operation

21 February 2018

The Turkish military repeated in a weekly statement published Saturday that it does not use internationally "banned ammunition" in its Afrin operation.

He added that the victims came from al-Mazyaneh village on the outskirts of Afrin.

After saying that the kind of poison used is unknown so far, the hospital director noted that four of those affected are stable, while the two others are in critical health condition. The Britain-based monitoring group also said medical sources in Afrin reported that six people in the attack suffered breathing difficulties and dilated pupils, indicating a suspected gas attack.

The agreement underscores the increasingly complex situation in northern Syria where Kurdish groups, the Syrian government, rebel groups, Turkey, the United States and Russian Federation are tangled in a complex web of enmities and alliances.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Friday released a report accusing Turkish forces of a chemical weapons attack in Afrin. "[These are] lies... This is black propaganda".

"These are baseless accusations". In Brussels on Thursday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis met with his Turkish counterpart, while the national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, met Sunday in Istanbul with Turkey's senior presidential adviser, Ibrahim Kalin.

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The secretary of state said that while U.S. "recognise [d] the legitimate right of Turkey to secure its borders" Turkey needed to "show restraint in its operations [in Afrin] to minimise casualties to civilians". While the Kurds have provided the bulk of the ground troops for the US -led coalition battling the Islamic State militant group, Turkey considers them violent separatists and a threat to its national security.

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.

Turkey launched an air and ground offensive last month on the Kurdish controlled Afrin region that sits on its southern border.

In the end, Tillerson and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu agreed to create what they called a "results-oriented mechanism" to address tensions, starting with their disagreement over US support for Kurdish fighters in Syria and the potential for clashes there.

Operation Olive Branch was launched by Turkey on January 20 to remove the PKK/PYD/YPG/KCK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin in northwestern Syria. He said the US has "serious concerns" about the detention of Turkish nationals working at the USA embassy and called on the government to release them along with USA citizens Andrew Brunson, a pastor detained in 2016, and Serkan Golge, a NASA scientist.

Turkish General Staff: Over 1610 'neutralized' so far in Afrin operation