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Turkish soldiers killed, 13 wounded during clash in Syria

Turkish soldiers killed, 13 wounded during clash in Syria

Turkey's military said Turkish-made ATAK helicopters struck a region in western Afrin, killing nine "terrorists".

Turkish-led Syrian opposition fighters have advanced steadily since January 20 when they launched an assault on Afrin, controlled by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).

The YPG has been a key component of a US-backed Kurdish-Arab alliance that has been fighting the Islamic State jihadist group in Syria.

Speaking on Alhurrah, a US based Arabic language TV channel, Lieutenant Adrian Galloway said that the Afrin operation is hindering the fight against the Islamic State (ISIL).

Three Kurdish fighters were also killed in the strikes late Thursday on the village of Jamma in the enclave on the Turkish border, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

More than 580 people have reportedly been killed in the rebel-held enclave near Damascus since the government and its allies intensified bombardment on 18 February.

Shortly after, it issued a second statement in which it announced that three more soldiers had been killed as well as six wounded, without giving details of the circumstances.

According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey's borders and the region as well as to protect Syrians from terrorist oppression and cruelty.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said his country's forces had captured the town of Rajo from militants.

Damascus, backed by Russian Federation and Iran, has been waging one of the deadliest offensives of the war in eastern Ghouta, killing hundreds of people in a fierce air and artillery bombardment over the last two weeks.

State-run al-Ikhbariya TV said rebels shelled a crossing point to Ghouta in order to prevent people from leaving.

The U.N. Security Council resolution demands all parties "cease hostilities without delay ... for a durable humanitarian pause for at least 30 consecutive days throughout Syria". While the relentless bombing has somewhat subsided in eastern Ghouta, home to about 400,000 civilians, the Syrian government's push to squeeze the insurgents out of the region continued.

Last month, Amnesty International said indiscriminate shelling had killed scores of civilians in Afrin. Later in the day, the number has risen to 2,516, the army said. The YPG is not designated as a terrorist group by the Security Council.

The two also called on Russian Federation to "put maximal pressure on Damascus, without ambiguity" so that the government commits to respecting the United Nations resolution.

The pro-government troops entered Afrin two weeks ago to back Kurdish forces.

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