Turkish troops killed in deadliest day of Kurdish offensive

French footballer sad for Turkey's Afrin martyrs

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the offensive is meant to clear Syria's Kurdish-held northwest district of People's Protection Units (YPG) fighters who Turkey claims are an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

"You can go arm in arm with terrorists when necessary ..." Yet in Iraq, the United States abandoned the Kurds when they voted for Kurdistan's independence and faced a crackdown by Baghdad. The costly campaign has proved to be the deadliest of all military adventures by Turkey inside the Syrian territory over the past years. The jihadist group, Hayat Tahrir Al Sham (HTS), the latest incarnation of the former Al Qaeda affiliate, militarily dominates the province.

The two presidents have not spoken in years and often rely on Russian Federation to mediate the issues between their nations.

In a letter addressed to the United Nations secretary general, the Syrian foreign ministry said the attack "represents a war crime and a crime against humanity".

It also said one child was killed and six people were injured after shelling hit a vehicle carrying civilians in the city of Azaz on February 5 and they were transferred to hospitals in Turkey for treatment.

Turkey launched an offensive into the enclave three weeks ago to rout Syrian Kurdish fighters whom Ankara considers to be a security threat due to their links to outlawed rebels in Turkey.

His colleagues in the northern province of Idlib had treated more than a dozen cases of civilians falling ill due to a suspected chlorine attack on the city of Saraqeb.

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The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war, said Deir el-Zour province continues to be tense following the foiled attack and the USA response, and said there were reports of a new mobilization to the area.

Afrin-based Kurdish official Rezan Hiddo said by telephone that Turkish warplanes hit 23 points, adding that Turkey's artillery in three areas near Afrin have been pounding the town. "There must be an immediate halt to the fighting and an end to the siege", said Save the Children's Syria response director, Sonia Khush.

Moscow has repeatedly blocked action in the council that would put pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Meanwhile, Turkish officials said the leaders of Turkey, Russia and Iran will meet in Istanbul to discuss peace efforts for Syria.

Washington's interjection came as the Syrian government called a US-led air strike on pro-Assad fighters earlier on Thursday a "war crime".

More than 800 civilians are believed to have been injured in the same period.

The UN Security Council is now examining a draft resolution calling for a 30-day ceasefire in all of Syria to enable the urgent delivery of humanitarian aid, according to a text seen by AFP on Friday. Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vassily Nebenzia said Thursday that the proposed ceasefire is "not realistic", Agence France-Presse reported.

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