2 Turkish troops, at least 15 Kurds said killed on 7th day of Syria offensive
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2 Turkish troops, at least 15 Kurds said killed on 7th day of Syria offensive

Turkey says soldiers killed by shelling from Manbij, where Syrian forces moved in after deal with Kurds; UN Security Council to meet Wednesday

In this photo from October 14, 2019, Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighters fire a heavy machine-gun towards Kurdish fighters, in Syria's northern region of Manbij. (AP Photo)
In this photo from October 14, 2019, Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighters fire a heavy machine-gun towards Kurdish fighters, in Syria's northern region of Manbij. (AP Photo)

Two Turkish soldiers were killed on Tuesday after shelling from the Manbij region, where Ankara’s forces had clashed with Kurdish fighters the night before, the defense ministry said in a statement.

The soldiers were killed “following artillery fire by the terrorists from the Manbij region,” the ministry said.

Seven soldiers were initially wounded in the attack, it added.

The statement did not provide the precise location but said the army returned fire and killed at least 15 “terrorists.”

Turkish soldiers with US-made M60 tanks drive through the town of Tukhar, north of Syria’s northern city of Manbij, on October 14, 2019, as Turkey and its allies continue their assault on Kurdish-held border towns in northeastern Syria. (Aref Tammawi/AFP)

Six Turkish soldiers have been killed since Ankara launched its cross-border operation last Wednesday against Kurdish fighters in Syria.

Syrian forces have moved into Manbij following a deal between Damascus and the Kurds over the weekend to try to hold back Turkey’s advance.

Meanwhile, shelling from Kurdish positions in Syria killed two civilians and wounded 12 others on Tuesday in the Turkish border town of Kiziltepe in Mardin province, the Anadolu state news agency reported.

Turkish border towns have come under heavy artillery fire from Kurdish positions in Syria, killing a total of 20 civilians since the operation began, and causing thousands to take refuge away from the frontier.

Ankara is pressing its military operation against the Kurds, with the goal of clearing its border from “terrorists” and creating a “safe zone” to repatriate Syrian refugees.

In this photo taken from the Turkish side of the border between Turkey and Syria, in Ceylanpinar, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, smoke and dust billows from targets in Ras al-Ayn, Syria, caused by bombardment by Turkish forces, October 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Diplomats said the UN Security Council will convene on Wednesday to discuss Turkey’s military incursion in northeast Syria, with Ankara showing no sign of relenting in its assault on the Kurds.

This session was requested by European countries with seats on the 15-member council, the diplomats said Tuesday.

At a first meeting last Thursday, the council was divided, and only the European members issued a statement calling for an end to the Turkish offensive.

On Friday, Russia and China blocked a US-sponsored text that also called for an end to the assault.

A diplomat said there may not be consensus this time either as the council meets on the incursion, with Russia possibly preventing members from showing a unified front.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, April 8, 2019. (Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

There will likely be another statement issued by the European countries on the council, the diplomat said.

Russia risks becoming increasingly isolated on the council. It has already used its veto power as a permanent member 13 times since the war in Syria broke out in 2011.

The United States is calling in increasingly firm language for an end to the incursion, and announced sanctions against Turkey on Monday.

China on Tuesday also called on Turkey to halt its military operation and “return to the correct way of political resolution.”

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