Press TV – The Turkish military has claimed that at least 260 Kurdish forces and Daesh terrorists have been killed since Ankara launched its offensive into northern Syria four days ago.
The announcement was made in a late Tuesday statement in which the Turkish Armed Forces stressed that “Operation Olive Branch” is continuing successfully.
It added that one Turkish soldier had been killed on Tuesday, bringing the total Turkish death toll to three since the operation began.
Erdogan, Putin discuss Syria
Meanwhile, the Kremlin announced that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have discussed Ankara’s operations in Syria via a phone call.
The Kremlin noted that during the conversation both leaders stressed the importance of continuing cooperation towards finding a peaceful solution to the situation in Syria.
France expresses concern over Turkey’s offensive
Also on Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron voiced his “concern” over Turkey’s operations in a telephone call with Erdogan.
“While recognizing Turkey’s security needs, the president of the republic told his Turkish counterpart of his concern over the military intervention launched Saturday in the canton of Afrin,” said the French presidential office.
During the conversation, Macron also stressed the need to battle Daesh and all other Takfiri terrorist groups “as a matter of priority.”
He also voiced his concerns over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria.
Some 5,000 people fled fighting in Afrin: UN
According to a report released by the UN on Tuesday, at least 5,000 civilians have so far fled fighting between Turkish and Kurdish forces in the border regions of Bulbul, Shankal, Admanli, Balal Kuy and Ali Bakki.
“We have been preparing for a large scale response depending on the needs of the civilian population,” said UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric. “We cannot stress enough the need for all parties involved to protect civilians, to protect civilian infrastructure, and to respect international law,” he added.
Operations may expand out of Afrin
Earlier in the day, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced that the operations in Afrin may branch out into the town of Manbij and even areas east of the Euphrates River.
“Terrorists in Manbij are constantly firing provocation shots. If the United States doesn’t stop this, we will stop it,” he said.
“I must take whatever step I have to. If not, our future as a country is in jeopardy tomorrow. We are not afraid of anyone on this, we are determined… We will not live with fear and threats,” Cavusoglu added.
Turkey launched the so-called Operation Olive Branch on Saturday in a bid to eliminate the US-backed YPG, which Ankara views as a terror organization and the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK). The latter has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.