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Civilian Casualties in Both Syria, Turkey Amid Fifth Day of Afrin Op - Reports

© REUTERS / Khalil AshawiA military weapon is seen on the back of a pick-up truck near Mount Barsaya, northeast of Afrin, Syria
A military weapon is seen on the back of a pick-up truck near Mount Barsaya, northeast of Afrin, Syria - Sputnik International
As the fifth day of Ankara's operation in the Kurdish enclave of Afrin is drawing to a close, fighting has already claimed dozens of civilian lives in Syria and left two people dead and many others injured on the Turkish territory.

Casualties on the Syrian Side

Civilian death toll in Syria's Afrin has climbed to 35 as Turkey's shell fire is mostly targeting settlements despite of the presence of people there, Afrin's health department official Angela Rasho said as quoted by Kurdish agency Hawar.

READ MORE: SDF Says it Killed Tens of Turkish Troops, Allied Rebels Since Start of Afrin Op

Over 100 people are currently receiving medical attention in Afrin's hospitals, she added.

Turkish presidential representative Ibrahim Kalin stated on Tuesday that Ankara's operation is directed only against terrorists, whereas securing civilian lives is the main priority of Turkey. Kalin also warned against false rumors and propaganda being spread about the operation.

Casualties in Turkey

Two civilians died in a hospital from the injuries after a missile fired from Afrin hit the mosque in the center of Turkey's Kilis located on the border with Syria, the DHA agency reported.

At least 8 people were wounded as a result of the missile attack on the mosque, whereas another rocket stroke a residential building injuring 5 people, according to the Afrin's governor.

Earlier, the Turkish media reported 15 civilians injured as a result of the shelling.

How Many People Died Since the Start of Operation?

There are conflicting reports on the civilian casualties as neither of sides has released information about fatalities, thus it is difficult to gauge the exact death toll.

The UN Secretary-General spokesperson Stephane Dujarric on Tuesday expressed deep concern over Turkey's ongoing operation, saying the offensive has already forced about 6,000 of people leave their homes and claimed lives of civilians, though he did not clarify how many people died.

According to the estimates from the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), Turkish airstrikes have left at least 24 civilians dead, however, Turkey asserts it targets only combatants.

Ankara's Olive Branch Operation

Turkey began a military intervention in the Afrin region, dubbed Olive Branch Operation, on Saturday by shelling Kurdish positions surrounding the Syrian city, with the ground offensive starting the next day. According to Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag, the only aim of Ankara in Afrin is to eliminate terrorists from the area.

READ MORE: Turkey's Operation in Northern Syria, Day 4 Roundup

Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army fighters are seen near Mount Barsaya, northeast of Afrin, Syria - Sputnik International
Turkey's Campaign in Syria Thwarts Attempts to Create 'Kurdish Corridor'
Tensions around Afrin has been running high since the US announcement of its plans to build a 30,000-strong Kurdish force from Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighting Daesh in the region. Ankara's concerns are caused by the fact that the SDF is affiliated with Syria's Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which Turkey considers to be a terrorist organization as they have ties to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) which is actively fighting against the government in Turkey in a bid to gain independence.

Since the start of Turkey's offensive the world community has been closely monitoring the humanitarian situation in the region. Russia stated that it follows the humanitarian aspects connected with the offensive stressing that it stays in contact with both Damascus and Ankara on this issue. The EU foreign affairs chief Mogherini also noted the importance of ensuring the security of civilians and their access to the humanitarian assistance amid the operation.

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