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Turkish military helicopter shot down near Syria: President Erdogan

11 February 2018

Two Turkish military personnel were killed on Saturday when a helicopter was downed during Ankara's military offensive against a Kurdish militia in northern Syria.

President Bashar al-Assad's army, which has seized a clear advantage in the war with Russian and Iranian help, is bombarding two of the last key rebel areas of Syria - Eastern Ghouta near Damascus and Idlib in the northwest near the Turkish border.

In a separate incident, two Turkish Armed Forces personnel were killed when an attack helicopter crashed in Syria's Afrin during the ongoing Operation Olive Branch on February 10, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said.

The president also said the Turkish Armed Forces "destroyed many missile depots" of the Kurdish militias they are battling in the Afrin region.Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim later told journalists that two soldiers were killed in the crash.

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It is commanding a joint operation with Syrian opposition forces on the ground, as well, though they have been held to limited territorial gains by the YPG.

Turkey launched the military operation on the Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin in northern Syria on January 20, citing national security.

He said shells also hit a primary school in the village of Maydanki a day earlier.

The Afrin invasion aims to the prevent the YPG from establishing a statelet on Turkey's borders, which they fear could become a base for PKK attacks in Turkey.

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The operation in Afrin, dubbed The Olive Branch, has led to Washington's ire.

For the United States, it is yet another complication in Syria's seven-year-old war, and a reminder of how its Syrian Kurdish ally must at times make deals with Assad even as it builds military ties with the United States.

"One of our helicopters was downed just recently", Erdogan said as he spoke to a member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Istanbul. The Turkish military later said nine more soldiers were killed in separate incidents but did not give details.

"Excuse me but no state would ignore a terror organisation growing like a tumour next to it", he said.

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