No civilians killed or hurt in Afrin, Turkey says

Turkey’s government said no civilians had been killed or hurt during a Turkish military incursion into Afrin in northwest Syria.

Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ, speaking to government-run Anadolu agency, said operations in the Kurdish-controlled enclave were continuing and any militia entering the area would be targeted by Turkish forces.

Operation Olive Branch, as the incursion is known, is of great help to securing Syrian security and territorial integrity, Bozdağ said.

Turkey invaded Afrin on Jan. 20 to tackle the People’s Protection Units (YPG), an armed group it says is indistinguishable from autonomy-seeking Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters in Turkey. Local officials in Afrin, including city hospital staff, have reported scores of dead and injured.

Anyone who backs or patronises the YPG/PKK, including the United States, would face a response from Turkey, he said.

Syria’s government said this week that pro-regime militia entered Afrin in support of the local population against the Turkish operation, labelling the Turkish move as an abuse of its sovereignty. Turkey said it repelled the attempt with artillery fire, though witnesses on the ground said fighters had reached Afrin city.