President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday announced that 18 Turkish soldiers were killed in a military operation launched last week in the northeast of Syria and that nearly 200 people, including civilians, were injured, the Cumhuriyet daily reported.
Speaking at a business convention, Erdoğan said more than 500 terrorists were “neutralized,” meaning they were either killed or captured, or they surrendered to Turkish troops.
Ankara is targeting the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria, considering it an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a terrorist group that has waged a decades-long insurgency in Turkey’s Southeast.
Erdoğan said there are at least 50 Kurdish deputies in his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), implying that the military offensive does not target the Kurds as a people.
He also pledged to build new residential areas in northeast Syria for the relocation of refugees living in Turkey, which hosts nearly 3.6 million Syrians.