Turkey PM: “They will pay for this twice as much”
Turkey’s military has suffered its deadliest day so far in a Turkish-rebel offensive against Kurdish militia YPG in northwest Syria.
A Turkish army statement said eight soldiers were slain on Saturday, just over two weeks after the offensive began against the Kurdish canton of Afrin. Five of the troops were killed when their tank was struck by the YPG in Sheikh Haruz, northeast of Afrin.
Claimed image of the destroyed tank:
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim promised retaliation, writing on Twitter, “They will pay for this twice as much. We have given the necessary response instantly, and we continue to do so.”
Soon after the incident in Sheikh Haruz, Turkish warplanes attacked YPG positions and weapons storehouses in the area.
Turkish forces, working with the Free Syrian Army, began their assault on January 20. Ankara considers the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its YPG militia to be part of the Turkish Kurdish insurgency PKK, which has battled Turkish security forces for more than 30 years.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told members of his ruling party on Saturday, “We are advancing into Afrin [city center]. We are close.”
The actual advance of the Turkish-rebel offensive, launched 15 days ago, is far more limited. “Operation Olive Branch” has taken some hilltop positions, notably around the town of Rajo, northwest of Afrin.
The Turkish military has made the unsupported claim that it has “neutralized” almost 900 enemy fighters. It includes Islamic State as well as YPG members in that number, even though there is no evidence of ISIS in Afrin.
East Ghouta Doctor: “Daily Attacks on Civilians”
A doctor in East Ghouta, the bombarded and besieged area of almost 400,000 residents near Damascus, writes of the ongoing pro-Assad assault of a tightening siege threatening malnutrition and death from treatable medical conditions, shelling and bombing, and even the use of chlorine:
The issue is much bigger than that of chemical weapons. There are daily attacks on civilians and residential areas by airstrikes and by internationally-prohibited weapons like cluster bombs. They are killing scores of women and children, as well as destroying their houses, and maiming survivors.
But none of this seems to have any value. And then there are chemical weapons that kill a number of people in a different way and suddenly it is a big deal.
Just today, 11 people are dead. 4 in Douma, 1 in Misraba, 3 in Hamouriya, and 3 in Arbin….How is possible that the international community cannot even take a decision? The political and military situation can go to hell — civilians should be protected.
— The White Helmets (@SyriaCivilDef) February 3, 2018