Turkish president says helicopter downed in Syria

Turkish president says helicopter downed in Syria

Turkish president says helicopter downed in Syria

Since the launch of the campaign in northwest Syria's Afrin almost three weeks ago, authorities have said they would arrest those who criticise or oppose it.

In eastern Ghouta, almost 400,000 residents are trapped by a tightening government siege and the violence.

Syria has been locked in a devastating civil war since March 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.

She called for an immediate end to the fighting, adding that the siege "means there is nowhere for them to escape".

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Turkey launched "Operation Olive Branch" on January 20 to clear People's Protection Units (YPG) militants, backed by the United States while considered by Ankara as "terrorist group", from Afrin in northwestern Syria.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the airstrikes targeted the town of Afrin and its outskirts, killing two people and wounding others.

"A little earlier, one of our helicopters was shot down", Erdogan said in televised remarks without saying who was responsible but vowing they would pay a "heavier price".

"Even by Syria's atrocious standards, these are exceptionally deplorable developments — and a cruel irony given that both have been declared "de-escalation areas", Al Hussein said. The battlefield is shifting as demonstrated by a deadly barrage of American air and artillery strikes on a shadowy attacker.

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Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Putin, his Russian counterpart, spoke by telephone on Thursday and agreed to strengthen military and security service coordination in Syria, according to the Kremlin.

In a statement, the Turkish military said that air strikes destroyed shelters, hideouts and ammunition depots belonging to the YPG and the Islamic State group, which Turkey says it is also combating in the operation.

Kurdish forces released a video showing members of a Turkish-allied Syrian militia abusing the body of a dead female YPG fighter.

Ankara says the YPG is a "terrorist" offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged a three-decade insurgency inside Turkey and is blacklisted by Washington and the European Union.

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The YPG controls almost all of Syria's frontier with Turkey .

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