Published: Sun, February 11, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

Turkish soldiers killed, 11 injured in Operation Olive Branch in Syria's Afrin

Turkish soldiers killed, 11 injured in Operation Olive Branch in Syria's Afrin

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said two Turkish military personnel were killed when a helicopter was downed during Ankara's military offensive against a Kurdish militia in northern Syria.

Unconfirmed Turkish media reports had Turkey had halted flights after Russia, which effectively controls the skies over the region, had closed the airspace over Afrin, following the February 3 downing of a Russian jet in northern Idlib province.

As of Sunday, at least 14 Turkish troops have also been reported killed in the fighting.

In particular, 86 members of Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), People's Protection Units (YPG) and Islamic State (IS) terrorist organizations were killed in Afrin Feb. 10-11.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government forces had allowed Daesh fighters to leave a besieged pocket of territory at the intersection of Aleppo, Idlib, and Hama provinces, and then go to southern Idlib. "There is some kind of consensus between the Syrian regime, Iran and Turkey".

Erdogan said Saturday that the helicopter was participating in the Turkish military offensive in northern Syria when it was shot down while flying over an area in Turkey's Hatay province. Two of them were aboard a Turkish attack helicopter that crashed while on a mission over Afrin.

The Turkish army confirmed the crash but did not comment on a cause. Meanwhile, things are getting evermore complicated in the country's almost seven-year war.

It opened a new front in Syria's multi-sided, nearly seven-year-old war.

The United States has called for an end to the airstrikes, as has France. USA forces have pivoted their focus from the fight against ISIS to fighting Russian-backed Syrian forces. We will resist for our part.

Some shops reopened in Douma, Erbin and Hammuriyeh, and residents were seen sweeping up rubble outside their homes as others salvaged what they could from destroyed houses, AFP correspondents said.

"Now they are saying that they will keep their presence till they make sure a steady process of a political settlement in Syria starts, which will result in regime change", the minister said during a conference in Sochi, stressing that the U.S. has "plans of virtual division of Syria".

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