Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Monday refuted claims made by the Turkish defence minister regarding a fresh cross-border escalation in northern Syria.
Turkish minister Hulusi Akar on Sunday announced that over the weekend Turkish forces had targeted Kurdish positions in the region and claimed the lives of 10 militants.
Akar said that Syrian Kurdish groups had wounded four Turkish soldiers in shelling and rocket attacks, and Turkey’s operation on Sunday was in response to these attacks.
On Monday Akar updated the claimed number of Syrian Kurdish militants killed to 12.
“Our only target is terrorists but there are some powers behind those terrorists and they support them in one way or the other,” Akar said, pledging to continue Turkey’s operations.
“Over the last three days, the Turkish occupation has launched heavy weapons, artillery, and tank attacks on the al-Shahba regions and Manbij countryside,” said the SDF in a statement, adding that the attacks mainly targeted civilian properties, causing substantial destruction but no casualties.
“Defence Minister Akar claimed on 16 April that the People’s Protection Units (YPG) attacked Turkish military posts in northern Aleppo, injuring four soldiers,” the Kurdish-led forces said.
“These claims are false, and the Turkish occupation army’s assertions that they killed ten of our fighters, are also untrue. We have not suffered any casualties from the Turkish occupation army’s attacks over the last three days,” it said.
Meanwhile, UK-based war watchdog Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday reported that an attack by the Turkish military and Turkish-backed rebel factions in the Afrin countryside north of Aleppo claimed the lives of two Kurdish fighters.
Turkey views the Kurdish-led SDF as a national security threat and continues large-scale operations against Syrian Kurdish groups.
Turkey and Turkey-backed Syrian rebel groups control large parts of northern Syria, including Kurdish populated Afrin.