ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Turkish military on Saturday announced the death of 11 soldiers in Ankara’s ongoing military offensive against Syrian Kurds in the Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) enclave of Afrin.
The Turkish Armed Forces made the announcement in four separate statements on the same day as Turkey’s Afrin operation enters its fourth week.
According to a military statement, nine Turkish soldiers were killed in ground offensives, and two other troops were killed when an attack helicopter was shot down by Kurdish forces.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed the shoot-down in a speech in Istanbul.
“They will pay a more than heavy price,” Erdogan said in remarks carried by state media.
The General Staff of the Turkish army did not specify how the helicopter came down but said it was “irreparably damaged” at around 1:00 p.m. local time.
Erdogan, however, maintained that the rotorcraft “was brought down.”
“We are at war,” he said at an Istanbul provincial convention of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). “We will have losses. But, we will also make them have losses.”
On Jan. 20, Turkish warplanes began striking Afrin as dozens of civilians, including children and women, were reported to have been killed by air raids and shelling.
President Erdogan says the offensive is meant to clear Syria’s Kurdish-held northwest district of People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters who Turkey claims are an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Ankara argues the US-backed Kurdish forces are a “terrorist organization” and has been incensed by Washington’s support for the YPG.
The US, which has backed the Kurds in the ongoing battle against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria has called on Turkey to limit its military offensive in the Kurdish region.