The Latest: UN says Syria envoy overstated fatalities

February 15, 2018

FILE - This Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018 file photo, shows U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Jamie Jarrard left, thanks Manbij Military Council commander Muhammed Abu Adeel near the town of Manbij, northern Syria. As Syrian troops and their allies push toward final victory and the battle against Islamic State militants draws to an end, new fronts are opening up, threatening an even broader confrontation. The U.S., Israel and Turkey all have deepened their involvement, seeking to protect their interests in the new Syria order. (AP Photo/Susannah George, File)

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The Latest on developments in Syria (all times local):

8:10 p.m.

The United Nations says the U.N. envoy for Syria misspoke when he told the Security Council that more than 1,000 people were reportedly killed in violence in early February.

Speaking to the 15-member body Wednesday in New York, Staffan de Mistura said: “Civilians have been killed on a horrific scale: Reports suggest more than 1,000 civilians in the first week of February alone.” He did not specify the reports.

The U.N. press team in Geneva, where de Mistura has his offices, later issued a “revised” transcript of his remarks. It referenced more than 1,000 “civilian casualties,” not deaths alone.

The U.N. human rights office has cited reports that 277 people were killed and another 812 were injured in Syria between Feb. 4 and Feb. 9. It attributed 230 of those deaths to air strikes by the Syrian government and its allies, which include Russia.


4:15 p.m.

The Russian Foreign Ministry says five Russians have been killed in a U.S. strike in Syria, the first official recognition of Russian deaths in the incident that has threatened to further strain Russia-U.S. ties.

The ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, told Thursday’s briefing that five Russian citizens were killed in the U.S. strike in the eastern Deir el-Zour province, adding they were not military personnel. The Feb. 7 clash marked the first time Russian combatants in Syria died in a U.S. strike — the long-feared clash Moscow and Washington long has sought to avoid.

Until Thursday, both Russian and U.S. officials said they had no information on Russian losses in the clash, which came when pro-government forces attacked positions of the U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters and faced a ferocious U.S. counterattack


1:25 p.m.

Turkey’s defense minister says he has asked his American counterpart that the United States end its support for Syrian Kurdish fighters and remove them from a U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, that if fighting the Islamic State group in Syria.

Nurettin Canikli also says in comments televised live from Brussels on Thursday that he told U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, that U.S. support for the Syrian Kurdish militia, known as YPG, has helped Kurdish rebels in Turkey “to grow and strengthen,” posing an increasingly “existential” threat to Turkey.

Canikli said he presented documents to Mattis proving “organic” links between the YPG and Kurdish rebels in Turkey.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is due in Ankara later on Thursday to discuss growing tensions between the two NATO allies.

Update hourly