Turkish army says 31 soldiers killed in Syria operation

The coffin of Koray Karaca, a soldier who was killed during Turkey’s military action in Syria’s Afrin region, is carried by a ceremonial guard of honor during his funeral ceremony in Istanbul. (Reuters)
Updated 13 February 2018
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Turkish army says 31 soldiers killed in Syria operation

ANKARA: The Turkish army on Monday said 31 soldiers had been killed since Ankara launched its offensive against a Kurdish militia in Syria last month.
Another 143 Turkish soldiers were wounded in the operation dubbed “Olive Branch” which began on January 20 against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia in the western region of Afrin, a statement said.
While the United States has given armed support to the YPG against the Daesh group in Syria, Turkey says the militia is a “terrorist” offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The PKK, proscribed as a terrorist organization by Ankara and its Western allies, has waged a three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state.
Turkey has been supporting Syrian rebels with ground troops and air strikes during the operation which Ankara has threatened to extend eastwards toward other YPG-held towns.
Turkey suffered its bloodiest day on Saturday when 11 military personnel were killed, including two after a helicopter taking part in the offensive was downed.
Some 1,369 “terrorists” had been neutralized during the operation, the army said, referring to those killed but also those captured or wounded.
It was not immediately possible to verify this figure.
But according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 152 YPG fighters and 165 Turkey-backed Syrian rebels have died in the operation.
The Observatory said at least 74 civilians have been killed in the operation so far.
Turkey has repeatedly insisted it is taking all the necessary precautions to avoid harming civilians and says there have been no civilian casualties to date.
At least seven civilians have been killed in Turkish border towns after rockets were sent from Syria in attacks Ankara blames on the YPG.


Israeli minister sees end to ‘stupid’ airport grilling of leftists

Updated 6 min 20 sec ago
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Israeli minister sees end to ‘stupid’ airport grilling of leftists

  • Israeli security cabinet minister denounces the interrogation of left-wing activists at the country’s main airport
  • Questioning of Peter Beinart at Ben Gurion Airport prompted the Israeli security agency Shin Bet to describe the incident as ‘an administrative mistake’

JERUSALEM: An Israeli security cabinet minister on Thursday denounced the interrogation of left-wing activists at the country’s main airport, and predicted that it would end after the singling-out of a visiting US Jewish columnist stirred controversy.
The questioning of Peter Beinart at Ben Gurion Airport on Sunday prompted the Israeli security agency Shin Bet, in a statement issued by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, to describe the incident as “an administrative mistake.”
After Beinart, a columnist with the Jewish daily Forward, went public with his experience, several other liberal or pro-Palestinian activists — both foreigners and Israeli citizens — said that they had been similarly treated at Ben Gurion.
“This is stupidity,” Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi said when asked about the airport interrogations of left-wingers. “It cannot be explained. It is folly, ridiculous.”
“I am certain that now there will be someone who stands there and will check that such stupidity does not recur,” Hanegbi told Israel’s Channel 13 television.
Security screening at Ben Gurion has always been stringent, but left-wing activists accuse authorities of subjecting them to scrutiny on political grounds as the right-wing Netanyahu government tries to counter pro-Palestinian boycott campaigns against Israel.