Russia, Turkey to enhance military coordination in Syria

Russia, Turkey to enhance military coordination in Syria

Turkish forces claim that hundreds of Kurdish militia fighters have been "neutralized" in a series of military sorties, while militias such as the the YPG had before Saturday claimed more than a dozen Turkish casualties.

Accounts associated with the Azerbaijani lobby in Turkey distributed photos, apparently taken in the war zone, showing messages written on shells like "Karabakh is Turkish, will remain Turkish" with a hashtag for the Turkish official name for the Afrin operation, "Olive Branch".

Turkey resumed airstrikes in Syria's Kurdish enclave of Afrin after a brief lull, killing and wounding several people, the military and Kurdish officials said Friday.

Turkey launched "Operation Olive Branch" on January 20 to clear People's Protection Units (YPG) militants, backed by the United States while considered by Ankara as "terrorist group", from Afrin in northwestern Syria.

"One of our helicopters was downed just recently", Erdogan told members of his AK Party in Istanbul.

"We don't have exact evidence or document to determine that it went down with any outside interference", said Binali Yildirim.

It said two soldiers on board were killed and technical crews were investigating the crash.

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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 USA -led coalition. Nevertheless, its strategic ally, the YPG, must at times make deals with Assad for its survival.

Syrian government forces and their allies launched a push into Idlib seven weeks ago, inching closer to a key highway that connects Syria's two largest cities of Damascus and Aleppo.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein called Saturday for urgent worldwide action after a week of soaring violence and bloodshed, mostly caused by airstrikes, in the opposition-held Eastern Ghouta and Idlib regions of Syria.

He added: "There is still a significant gap between the YPG and regime positions on the future of northeastern Syria".

An airstrike Friday on the village of Hass in Idlib province killed at least 14 people, according to the Observatory and other opposition activists.

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.

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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