Smoke rises over Afrin city in late January. Photo: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Three and a half weeks into its Operation Olive Branch, Turkey and its Syrian proxies have taken control of 7 percent of Afrin’s villages, a conflict monitor reported on Tuesday.
They have taken control of one town, Bulbul in northern Afrin, and 23 villages, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights stated.
During the operation, the Observatory has documented the deaths of 163 members of the Kurdish YPG forces and 211 within the Olive Branch forces, including 32 Turkish soldiers and two pilots.
The UK-based organization also documented at least 77 civilian casualties and tens more injured. Local Afrin health authorities report at least 160 civilian deaths.
Turkey launched its operation against the Kurdish canton on January 20 with the stated intent of clearing its borders of “terrorists,” alleging that the YPG has ties to the PKK. The Kurdish force denies the charge.
The situation in Afrin, northwestern Syria is an area of “deep, deep concern” for the United States, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said on Tuesday.
She said the US understands Turkey has security concerns, but said “We don’t want to see civilians killed.”
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will visit Turkey this week.