First Turkish soldier killed during Syria operation: Defence ministry


Seven Turkish civilians including a nine-month-old baby were killed in Turkey's border towns in Sanliurfa and Mardin provinces.

The Turkish invasion, now in its second day, has been widely condemned around the world.

In Syria, residents fled with their belongings loaded into cars, pickup trucks and motorcycle rickshaws, while others escaped on foot.

It was wrenchingly familiar for the many who only a few years ago, had fled the advances on their towns and villages by the Islamic State group.

Those numbers could not be independently verified. However, the European Union insisted on Wednesday it will not give a penny of funding for it, prompting Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to echo Erdogan's migrant threat by saying that if Europe refuses to hand over money, "refugees will be their problem too".

"It is unlikely that a so-called "safe zone" in northeast Syria, as envisaged by Turkey, would satisfy global criteria for refugee return as laid down" by the UN Refugee Agency, the European countries said, adding: "Any attempt at demographic change would be unacceptable". It didn't provide details. But this week they said they are being forced to abandon some of those positions to fight the Turkish invasion.

Kurdish authorities in northern Syria said as many as 10 civilians were killed by Turkish forces, while mortar and rocket fire from Syria left six people dead in Turkey, local officials said.

Turkey moved into northern Syria on Wednesday after the president pulled United States troops out of the area.

Turkey also says one of its soldiers was "martyred".

"Nobody green-lighted this operation by Turkey, just the opposite".

Opponents of Turkey's offensive into northern Syria argue that the assault is purely aimed at driving out Kurdish fighters and US lawmakers have warned of potential sanctions. Ankara has been infuriated by USA support for the Syrian Kurdish fighters, claiming that Washington was arming an extension of a terror group - charges both the US and the Syrian Kurds deny.

The ministry said Friday that three soldiers were wounded. The Turkish government says it plans to enact this initiative with worldwide funding.

Turkey's Defense Ministry said 228 Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had been killed so far in the offensive, reported Reuters.

"No advance as of now", he tweeted Thursday.

He has said he wants to settle Syrian Arab refugees along the border to create a buffer zone, in what critics say would be an act of ethnic cleansing.

Craft reiterated US President Donald Trump's administration's assertion that the American government "has not in any way endorsed the decision of the Government of Turkey to mount a military incursion into northeast Syria".

"Turkey is committed to its course of action and the die has been cast; even the kind of stringent sanctions contemplated by some U.S. senators wouldn't be sufficient to change the contours of Turkey's policy at this stage", Eissenstat continued.

President Donald Trump, whose order to pull back United States troops from the border this week effectively triggered the invasion, said Washington would now seek to broker a truce.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the launch of the offensive, dubbed Operation Peace Spring, in northeastern Syria on Wednesday.

"These wars produce only chaos and bloodshed", he said.

Kelly Craft, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said the Trump administration does not endorse Turkey's military action and warned of unspecified "consequences", but she stopped short of condemning it. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he had been in contact with the Turkish and USA governments overnight and admitted to being anxious about the situation.

Since Trump first announced plans to withdraw from Syria a year ago, experts have warned that a USA departure could empower Islamic State militants.

Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, who were members of a British group of Isis militants known as "the Beatles" due to their accents, were reportedly among a number of fighters that were being transferred to the Americans.