63 more militants 'neutralized' in Turkey's Afrin operation

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Ankara, which considers the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia in Syria a "terror" group, has vowed to carry on and possibly expand the operation despite worldwide concern.

An investigation by found that Turkish soldiers in the northern Syria region of Afrin are sharing geotagged videos and images on Instagram as units move through the border cities of Kilis to the north and Reyhanli to the south of Turkey.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told a press conference in Ankara that 17-year-old Fatma Avlar was killed in a rocket attack. Many have pointed out the dubious nature of the claim that Turkey is also fighting "Islamic State" (IS) terrorists - as there is no IS presence in Afrin, where the fighting has occurred. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey's incursion into a Kurdish-held enclave in Syria is progressing "successfully" and will continue until the last "terrorist" is eliminated.

Coalition officials have warned that the offensive could destabilize recent gains against IS along the Iraq-Syria border in the Euphrates River Valley.

"I don't want our partner to be distracted", said U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Paul Funk, referring to the Syrian Kurdish forces.

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If the US-backed Syrian Kurdish forces become entangled in the fighting in Afrin, that could "pull Syrian Democratic Forces out of this area", said US Army Lt Col Brandon Payne, which would take the focus off IS and give them space to manoeuvre.

Turkey's 12-day cross-border offensive against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week threatened to expand, has strained relations with its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

French President Emmanuel Macron said in an interview Wednesday that he would have a "real problem" with Turkey's intervention against a Kurdish militia in Syria if it turned into an outright "invasion".

Karam reported from Beirut.

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