Screenshot of the Turkish helicopter that the SDF forces said was downed by Kurdish fighters on Saturday, February 10, 2018.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Kurdish forces have downed a Turkish helicopter in western Afrin on Saturday, the spokesperson for the SDF stated.
The helicopter was shot down over Qoda village in Afrin’s Rajo district, Mustefa Bali of the SDF stated, adding that the incident was captured on video.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed the helicopter was downed.
Speaking in Istanbul, he said it was shot down in Turkey’s southeastern Hatay province. The province borders Afrin to the west.
He vowed that the perpetrators will “pay a heavy price,” but also said losses are to be expected during wartime.
Two Turkish soldiers were killed, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has stated, Hurriyet Daily News reported.
Turkey has resumed its air campaign over Afrin, claiming its jets bombed a total of 19 targets, including shelters, ammunition depots, and gun positions belonging to "terror" organizations on Friday, its General Staff confirmed to state-run Anadolu Agency.
Saturday marks three weeks of Operation Olive Branch, launched on January 20 by the Turkish army and its Syrian proxies with the stated aim of clearing the border area of “terrorists and returning the land to its people.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported 70 civilian deaths. Local Afrin health officials say the number of civilians killed is more than double that, 160.
Turkey has denied killing civilians in their operation, saying that their caution for the lives of civilians is one of the reasons behind the slowness of their advance.
The Observatory estimates 135 Kurdish YPG fighters and civil defense members have been killed, and 158 among the Olive Branch side, including 22 Turkish soldiers.
Updated at 3:56 pm