The Turkish military and Kurdish representatives have been sharing conflicting reports concerning the situation in Afrin.
The Syrian Kurdish militia told Sputnik that they captured 16 Turkish soldiers during fighting in Afrin, where Ankara and allied Free Syrian Army rebels have been conducting an operation since January 20.
“The militiamen lost four people,” the spokesman for the Kurdish Self-Defense Forces YPG added.
He also noted the reduction in the number of Turkish airstrikes in the area.
On Wednesday, Turkish and Kurdish representatives shared conflicting reports on casualties on the fifth day of the Afrin operation. While the Turkish military said that a total of 287 terrorists had been killed in the campaign, a YPG militia representative speaking to Sputnik challenged the Turkish military’s claims, saying that no more than 15-20 Kurdish militiamen had been killed.
The same day, Reuters cited a senior member of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces as saying that the group had killed tens of Turkish forces and allied FSA rebels since the start of the “Olive Branch” operation, however, failing to provide an exact figure.
After the Turkish General Staff announced on Saturday the launch of the operation in Afrin against the PKK and the YPG on Saturday, the SDF expressed readiness to “defend ourselves and our people.” The campaign, which started with airstrikes to support the Free Syrian Army rebels, has been followed by a ground operation by the Turkish military on Sunday.
Ankara has been mulling an operation in Afrin since the US announced plans to build a 30,000-strong Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) security force on Syria’s border with Turkey, which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called a “terrorist army.”
The force was expected to consist to a great extent of People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia, which Turkey classifies as a terrorist group affiliated with its own illegal Kurdish organization, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which calls for Turkish Kurds’ autonomy from Ankara.