Eight more Turkish soldiers killed in Afrin Offensive in Syria

Thursday's deaths brngs the number of Turkish soldiers killed since the start of operation 'Olive Branch' to at least 40

Eight Turkish soldiers have been killed in fighting in the north Syrian region of Afrin, the military says.

The day’s toll brings the number of Turkish soldiers killed since the launch of operation “Olive Branch” to at least 40.

Another 13 soldiers were injured during Thursday’s clashes, with several said to be in critical condition.

The death toll, released by the Turkish military staff in two separate statements, makes Thursday one of the deadliest days for Ankara since launching its cross-border operation against the People's Protection Units (YPG) in Syria's Afrin region on 20 January.

"As part of the operations in Afrin, five of our heroic comrades fell as martyrs and seven were wounded" on Thursday, said the staff in a first statement.

According to the report a Turkish helicopter sent to rescue the wounded had to turn back after being hit, while the area was shelled to allow an evacuation.

On Monday, Turkey deployed some 600 members of the police and gendarmerie special forces in the Afrin region, indicating it was preparing for urban fighting.

The Turkish authorities have rejected a call by the United States this week to implement the humanitarian truce, called for by the UN Security Council in Syria, with Ankara saying the UN resolution did not concern its operation.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said a humanitarian aid convoy entered the Afrin region on Thursday for the first time since the start of the Turkish offensive, which has had a severe impact on civilians.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH), 141 civilians, including 27 children, have died since the beginning of the Turkish military campaign, a claim which Ankara denies.

Meanwhile, the UN Human Rights Council is due to debate the situation in Syria's besieged Eastern Ghouta area.

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

About 393,000 civilians trapped there also face severe shortages of food and medical supplies.

The debate in Geneva, expected later on Friday, was requested by the UK. A draft resolution, seen by Reuters news agency, strongly condemns the "denial of humanitarian access" and "repeated attacks against medical facilities".

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