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Erdogan: Turkey and its allies lost hundreds in fighting in Afrin

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY) –¬†Turkey and its opposition Free Syrian Army (FARC) allies have lost hundreds of fighters since launching a campaign in northwest Syria three months ago, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday, adding that the biggest casualties were in the Free Army.

Turkey and its allies of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) launched the operation, dubbed “Olive Branch” by Ankara, in January and managed to expel Syrian Kurdish security units from the Afrin region.

Erdogan had previously threatened to push further eastward in a move that could lead to a surge in tension in Syria’s multi-lateral conflict.

“In addition to 56 of our martyrs, the Free Syrian Army lost hundreds of martyrs,” Erdogan said in an interview with Turkish NTV television.

Turkey regards the Kurdish People’s Protection Units as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which the United States and Europe also classify as a terrorist organization.

The PKK has been waging a three-decade insurgency in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast. The insurgency has killed some 40,000 people.