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Turkish soldiers stand on top of their tanks near the Turkish-Syrian border in Hatay province, Turkey January 24, 2018. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

(reuters_tickers)

BEIRUT (Reuters) - The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said the Turkish army had falsely claimed that Islamic State is present in the Afrin region of northwestern Syria that is being targeted in a Turkish offensive, accusing it trying to mislead global public opinion.

"The whole world knows Daesh (Islamic State) is not present in Afrin," Redur Xelil, a senior SDF official, told Reuters. The Turkish military said on Tuesday that at least 260 Syrian Kurdish YPG and Islamic State militants had been killed in its Afrin operation.

Xelil said the Turkish military was greatly exaggerating the number of SDF and YPG casualties. He confirmed YPG and SDF fighters had been killed, but declined to say how many. He also said the SDF had killed tens of Turkish forces and allied Free Syrian Army fighters, but said he did not have a precise figure.

(Reporting by Tom Perry; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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Reuters