Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition elects new leaders

Turkish warplanes strike Kurdish militia targets in Syria: Report

Turkey launched an offensive into the enclave on January 20 against Syrian Kurdish fighters that Ankara considers to be a security threat due to their links to outlawed rebels in Turkey.

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

The battle, however, is not going to plan and the Turkish army has so far achieved only limited success.The Independent of the United Kingdom has reported that a helicopter of the Turkish army has been shot down by the Kurdish Peoples Protection Units north-west of the border town of Afrin.

Speaking at a meeting of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Istanbul, Erdogan said "we might lose one helicopter, but they will pay a heavier price".

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

The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey's rights based on worldwide law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN charter, and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, the military said.

Syria has been gripped by a new and escalating round of violence in recent weeks.

Opposition-controlled areas in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib and Eastern Ghouta, outside the capital, Damascus, have suffered intensified bombardment by what observers say are Russian-backed Syrian government forces.

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.

Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said his office had received reports including video footage of possible use of "toxic agents" on February 4 in the rebel-held town of Saraqeb, Idlib province.

In eastern Ghouta, almost 400,000 residents are trapped by a tightening government siege and the violence.

In May 2017, Russia, Turkey and Iran, the guarantors of a Syrian ceasefire regime and mediators for Astana peace talks for a political settlement in Syria, agreed on the creation of four de-escalation zones in Syria, which are guaranteed to be free of battles and airstrikes for six months initially and subject to extensions after that.

He stated: "The past week has been one of the bloodiest periods of the entire conflict, with wave after wave of deadly airstrikes leading to civilian casualties in areas of Eastern Ghouta and Idlib".

Mr Zeid has said the continuing failure to end the war - which has been ongoing since 2011 - is an "epic failure of global diplomacy".

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