(SKY NEWS) — Turkey has suffered its first military casualty since launching its controversial cross-border offensive in northeastern Syria.
News of the soldier’s death came as the campaign against Syrian Kurdish fighters entered its third day and opposition to the action grew.
Donald Trump, whose decision to withdraw US forces precipitated Ankara’s move, threatened to send troops back in to the region and Republicans in Congress promised to impose sanctions.
The Turkish defence ministry said on Friday that a soldier was “martyred” in the fighting and three soldiers were wounded, as its forces pushed deeper into northeastern Syria.
Ankara claimed to have “neutralised” 49 “terrorists”, bringing the total killed so far to at least 277, while six civilians in Turkey and seven in Syria have also died.
Mr Trump, responding to widespread criticism at home and abroad over the unexpected withdrawal of US troops, tweeted that Washington had either military, financial or diplomatic options to resolve the crisis.
The president has lost the support of some congressional Republicans, among them Representative Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Republican vice-president Dick.
In a tweet, she called for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to “face serious consequences for mercilessly attacking our Kurdish allies in northern Syria”.
Overnight, the United Nations Security Council failed to agree on an approach to the Turkish action, with Europeans demanding a halt to military action and Syria’s ally Russia calling for “restraint” and “direct dialogue” between the two countries.
The Syrian Kurdish militia was a US ally in the campaign that brought down the Islamic State group in Syria.
But Turkey has long said the Syrian Kurdish fighters are terrorists linked to a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey and the offensive is necessary for national security.