Two Turkish officers were killed Tuesday in clashes during Operation Olive Branch launched against terrorist groups in northern Syria's Afrin region.
A statement released by the Turkish General Staff said that First Lieutenant Oğuz Kaan Usta, 30, has been killed in clashes north of the village of Ömer Uşağı (Umar Ushaghi) in Syria on the fourth day of the operation.
The details of clashes leading to Usta's death remain unknown, but it is likely that he was killed fighting terrorists from PKK, its affiliates Democratic Unity Party (PYD) or its armed wing People's Protection Units (YPG).
In a message posted on his official Twitter account, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said: "My fellow countryman First Lieutenant Oğuz Kaan Usta participating in Operation Olive Branch in Afrin for the perpetuity of our homeland has been martyred. We will not leave the blood of our martyrs on the floor. We will continue our fight until we eradicate terror," Çavuşoğlu said.
In the following hours, the Turkish military said 25-year-old specialized sergeant, Mehmet Muratdağı was killed in clashes with YPG terrorists in Afrin.
On Monday, Master Sergeant Musa Özalkan was killed in clashes with PKK terrorists just south of Gülbaba village in Kilis province which borders Syria.
So far, two Turkish soldiers have been killed in Operation Olive Branch, which was launched by Turkey on Saturday to remove the PKK/PYD/YPG/KCK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin, northwestern Syria.
According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkish borders and in the region as well as to protect the Syrian people from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.
The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey's rights within international law, U.N. Security Council resolutions, its right to self-defense under the U.N. charter and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.
The military also said "utmost importance" is being placed on not harming any civilians.
Afrin has been a major hideout for the PYD/PKK since July 2012 when the Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without putting up a fight. The region is essential for PKK to pressure southern Turkey with terror attacks, as well as plans to create a Kurdish political structure reaching the Mediterranean Sea.
Afrin Zeytin Dalı Operasyon’unda ilk şehidimiz Astsubay Murat Özalkan kalbimizdesin. Allah ailesine, yakınlarına sabır versin. Türk milletinin başı sağolsun. pic.twitter.com/LMhpfTDJyN— Ali Keskin (@alikeskin_tr) January 22, 2018