ANKARA - Turkey’s military says eight Turkish soldiers have been killed by Kurdish forces from the People's Protection Units (YPG) in Afrin region in northwest Syria .
The Turkish forces were killed in a YPG attack on a tank, the military said on Saturday.
Turkey has been waging “Operation Olive Branch” against Syria’s Afrin region since January 20 in a bid to eliminate the US-backed YPG, which Ankara views as a terror organization and the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The latter has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.
The YPG forms the backbone of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed anti-Damascus militant group.
Ankara has warned that the Afrin offensive could also expand to the nearby Syrian city of Manbij.
Turkey has also been assisting militants from the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) to fight against the Kurdish fighters.
The Syrian government has condemned the “brutal Turkish aggression” against Afrin, rejecting Ankara’s claim about having informed Damascus of the operation.
In recent days, Turkey has arrested more than 300 people, including politicians, journalists and activists, for social media posts criticizing its military offensive in Afrin.
The Turkish military said in a statement on Tuesday that at least 260 members of the YPG and the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group had been killed in the Afrin operation. The SDF has also claimed to kill dozens of Turkish forces and allied FSA members.
In August 2016, Turkey began a unilateral military intervention in northern Syria , code-named Operation Euphrates Shield, sending tanks and warplanes across the border. Ankara claimed that its military campaign was aimed at pushing Daesh from Turkey 's border with Syria and stopping the advance of Kurdish forces, who were themselves fighting Daesh.