Turkish Helicopter Shot Down By Kurdish Militia In Syria's Afrin, Says Erdogan

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

The main Kurdish militia in northern Syria, known as the People's Protection Units, or YPG, said in a statement that airstrikes on the town and nearby villages since Thursday night wounded at least three people.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced earlier that a military helicopter was "downed" in the Afrin operation. "We have two martyrs", Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said in televised remarks.

Turkey on Jan 20. launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin.

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.

But tensions have mounted in recent months, with Damascus threatening to march into parts of eastern and northern Syria captured by the SDF, with support from the US-led coalition.

In Idlib, where at least two million civilians reside, the air and ground offensive by Syrian Government forces and their allies, as well as leading to civilian casualties and extensive destruction, has also reportedly resulted in the displacement - for many of them repeated - of thousands of civilians.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein says the past week "has been one of the bloodiest periods of the entire conflict".

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Underlining that, pro-Assad forces attacked the SDF in the eastern province of Deir al-Zor, drawing coalition air attacks overnight that killed more than 100 of the attackers, the coalition said.

There were also reports of the government using toxic agents in residential areas.

Western powers have expressed alarm over the government's campaign against rebel-held Eastern Ghouta, where 400,000 people have been besieged since 2013.

Pro-Assad forces backed by Russian Federation and Iran, and YPG forces have fought each other elsewhere in Syria, and Damascus opposes YPG demands for autonomy.

Zeid noted that both Idlib and Eastern Ghouta are supposed to be "de-escalation zones" according to a peace agreement struck by Russia, Turkey and Iran in May.

A spokesperson for the United Nations chief said: "The Secretary-General stresses once again that all concerned in Syria and the region have a responsibility and must abide by global law and relevant Security Council resolutions".

Calling for "urgent worldwide action" to protect civilians, Zeid also slammed what he called an "epic failure of global diplomacy" to end the seven-year-old war.

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