As Turkey continues its offensive in Syria's Kurdish enclave of Afrin, Ankara says it has killed 260 enemy fighters. Washington and Moscow have called for restraint as the United Nations readies aid supplies.
Turkish artillery on Wednesday continued to pound targets controlled by the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu reiterated Ankara's call for Washington to stop supporting the YPG.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates that 111 persons have been killed in the Afrin area since the start of Turkey’s military offensive. The conflict monitor reported on Tuesday that 28 civilians were among the casualties, 38 SDF fighters, two Turkish soldiers, and at least 43 Syrian militiamen backed by Turkey.
The SDF reported the deaths of four civilians – two children and two women – and another 10 wounded in the town of Jindaris, in southwest Afrin on Tuesday.
Shiyar Khalil, a Syrian journalist from Afrin now based in the Kurdistan Region, confirmed to Rudaw (Kurdish media network) the casualties in Jindaris.
Turkish media reported that two rockets fired across the border from Syria hit Kilis and Hatay provinces, which border Afrin.
Kilis’ governor said there were no casualties. In Hatay, there was material damage, but no casualties reported, according to state-run Anadolu Agency.
Turkish officials have said that cross-border attacks are one of the reasons why they launched their operation. Kurdish forces have denied they have attacked Turkey from Afrin and maintain they have only acted in self-defence.
While stating that the United States takes “very seriously Turkey’s legitimate security concerns,” Defence Secretary James Mattis criticized Turkey’s military offensive as a distraction from the war on terror.
“The violence in Afrin disrupts what was a relatively stable area of Syria. It distracts from international efforts to ensure the defeat of ISIS, and this could be exploited by ISIS and al-Qaida,” he said on Tuesday.
He urged Turkey to exercise “restraint in their military actions and rhetoric and ensure its operations are limited in scope and duration.”
He noted that Afrin had been a hub for humanitarian aid delivery and returning refugees, “The Turkish incursion disrupts that effort.”
The United Nations meanwhile said an estimated 5,000 people have fled the fighting since Saturday, as aid groups prepared to move in essential supplies to some 50,000 people.