BEIRUT (AP) – The Latest on Syria developments (all times local):
Hundreds of Kurds living in Lebanon have gathered outside the Turkish embassy in Lebanon to protest Turkey’s ongoing military operation in northern Syria’s Kurdish-controlled Afrin region.
Protesters carrying Kurdish flags chanted slogans on Friday denouncing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, including: “Down with Erdogan!”
Lebanese policemen deployed around the embassy and erected barbed-wire barriers to prevent protesters from approaching.
“All the Kurds here in Lebanon are supporting Afrin and saying long live the resistance of Afrin,” said protester Hanan Osman.
Turkey launched the offensive against Afrin on January 10 and is vowing to expand the operation eastward, toward the border with Iraq.
The Russian military says Syrian troops have killed five U.S.-trained rebels what is says was a subversive mission.
The Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria said that a group of rebels driving pickup trucks left the area around Tanf near the Jordanian border and were heading northeast Wednesday when they were spotted by Syrian troops. It said Friday that five rebels were killed but a few others escaped.
The Russian military said flags and emblems of a rebel group trained by the U.S. instructors in Tanf were found in the trucks along with Western-made jamming devices and propaganda leaflets of the Islamic State group. It said the rebels planned to strike Syrian troops in what it described as a U.S.-sponsored attempt to disrupt Syria peace talks.
Moscow has made similar accusations in the past, which were denied by the U.S.
Turkey’s state-run news agency says a rocket fired from the Syrian enclave of Afrin has hit a Turkish border town, but caused no casualties.
Anadolu Agency said the rocket struck near a market in the town of Reyhanli on Friday. It was deserted at the time of the attack.
It was the latest in a string of rocket attacks from the Afrin region since Turkey launched its offensive into the enclave on Jan. 20 to clear it of Syrian Kurdish fighters, which Ankara has branded as “terrorists.”
Three people – two of them Syrian refugees – have been killed and some 20 others have been hurt in the rocket attacks since then.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces says the first week of Turkey’s incursion into the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin has left more than a 100 civilians and fighters dead.
The SDF said in a statement Friday that the dead are 59 civilians and 43 fighters, including eight women fighters. It said 134 civilians were wounded in the weeklong clashes.
Turkey’s military offensive against the Kurdish-controlled enclave of Afrin in northwestern Syria, which began Saturday, had raised the possibility of the creation of a 30-kilometer-deep (20-mile) “safe zone” in Syria running along Turkey’s border
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is vowing to expand Ankara’s operation in a Kurdish enclave in northern Syria eastward, toward the frontier with Iraq.
The announcement came as Erdogan spoke on Friday to his ruling-party officials in the capital, Ankara.
Erdogan says the push into Afrin would stretch to the Syrian Kurdish town of Manbij and toward the border with Iraq, “until no terrorist is left.”
Manbij is held by the U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish militia, which Turkey considers a terrorist group and an extension of its own insurgent group.
Pushing into Manbj would put Turkish troops in proximity to American soldiers there.
Erdogan again slammed the United States, a NATO ally, for backing the Kurdish group, saying: “how can a strategic partner do such a thing to its strategic partner?”