Turkish president says helicopter downed in Syria

Turkish president says helicopter downed in Syria

Earlier in the day, the Turkish General Staff reported about five servicemen killed in Afrin operation, including two servicemen killed during the crash of a Turkish ATAK helicopter in the area.

The Kurdish Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, which has administered the Afrin area since the start of the Syrian Civil War in 2012, and its People's Protection Forces (YPG) have accused Turkish forces of a variety of abuses, including killing civilians in air strikes.

Turkey launched an offensive into the enclave on January 20 against Syrian Kurdish fighters that Ankara considers to be a security threat due to their links to outlawed rebels in Turkey.

Turkey considers the YPG to be the Syrian affiliates of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin have agreed to strengthen military and security service coordination in Syria, according to the Kremlin.

Turkey has detained hundreds of people in the past two weeks for allegedly engaging in terrorist propaganda for speaking out against the Turkish military offensive against the enclave of Afrin aimed at rooting out Syrian Kurdish militia.

A spokesman for the Kurdish militia, Mustafa Bali, said his fighters downed the chopper in Raju, northwest Afrin.

The helicopter is the first aircraft Turkey announced it has lost since the offensive began.

He said that those responsible would pay for their actions.

The Turkish military later said nine more soldiers were killed in separate incidents but did not give details.

"We are in a war".

In a statement from the State Department, Washington threw its weight behind a United Nations call for a ceasefire in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta and demanded that Moscow rein in its ally.

Both Idlib and eastern Ghouta are part of Russia-negotiated de-escalation areas, which are meant to freeze the lines of conflict and allow in humanitarian aid.

Lowcock also cited the "horrific conditions" in the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta where more than 700 people need immediate evacuation and malnutrition is widespread, the diplomat said. It added that the group's partners say 45 schools in eastern Ghouta have been attacked this year, with 11 destroyed.

YPG is the main fighting force of the USA -backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which played a key role in the ongoing fight against the Islamic State terror group in the region.