Turkish president says helicopter downed in northern Syria

Sunday, 11 Feb, 2018

In a statement, the Turkish General Staff added five other Turkish soldiers were also injured in the operation.

But the state-run news agency Anadolu said the incident happened in the southern border province of Hatay, with private run Dogan news agency saying authorities were trying to reach the wreckage in the Kirikhan district.

For almost a month, Turkey has been engaged in a massive military operation in northwestern Syria with an alleged aim of neutralizing a threat by Kurds from the city of Afrin and surrounding areas in the Syrian province of Aleppo.

Fresh air strikes hit the Syrian rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta on Friday, the fifth straight day of a bombing campaign that has killed more than 220 civilians.

"One is that we don't get approvals to actually go but even if we got approvals, there just is too much fighting going on", he said, pointing to hostilities in Idlib, Eastern Ghouta, and Afrin.

Turkey's President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan says its military helicopter has been shot down in northern Syria during an operation against US-backed Kurdish forces.

According to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Office, at least 277 civilians were killed last week including 230 in airstrikes by Syrian government and allied forces, the statement said.

As Turkey's military intervention in Kurdish-majority Afrin, Syria, entered its third week, a parallel public relations battle has raged on airwaves and social media, with varying messages tailored to Armenian and Azerbaijani audiences.

The YPG said the Turkish army also targeted a slaughterhouse on Afrin's outskirts, heavily damaging the building and killing hundreds of sheep. In Idlib, the largest area controlled by the opposition, at least two million people reside.

The Observatory said government forces opened a corridor for Islamic State fighters to leave parts of Hama and Aleppo provinces, where they were under siege, and head for rebel-held Idlib province. Citing its partners on the ground, it said 45 schools in Eastern Ghouta had been attacked since the start of the year, with 11 completely destroyed. More than 4,000 families live in basements and bunkers for fear of air strikes. "Schools are supposed to be safe places for children, protected under worldwide law, yet they are being attacked every single day".