Turkey's Afrin Operation Draws in Armenians, Azeris

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said two Turkish military personnel were killed when a helicopter was downed during Ankara's military offensive against a Kurdish militia in northern Syria. "Eleven members of the PYD [Kurdish Democratic Union Party], the YPG [Kurdish People's Protection Units] and IS [Daesh] terrorist organizations were killed", the statement said.

Twenty one Turkish soldiers have died since the beginning of the operation. "We would like to see a ceasefire, the end of war in Syria, but the terrorists, I'm not sure they are in agreement".

But Turkey's operation in Afrin is raising tension between the United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally because Washington supports YPG fighters in the battle against ISIS in Syria.

Using its Syrian proxies, Hasaka said, Ankara wanted to ferment hatred and create a conflict between the Kurdish and Arab components of Syria.

Turkey ordered the arrest of 17 people including the co-leader of the main pro-Kurdish political party over opposition to the military's offensive in Syria, the state-run Anadolu news agency said on Friday.

Idlib is one of the last main strongholds of rebels opposed to President Bashar al-Assad, who have been driven from most of their bastions in Syria since Russian Federation joined the war on the side of Assad's government in 2015.

Yildirim earlier said Turkey had not launched its operation in Afrin to enter into a war or because it had "an eye" on another country's territory.

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

But most experts say the Syrian regime appears intent to clear one of the last remaining rebel-held areas.

Bombardment resumed on several Eastern Ghouta towns on Friday morning, killing 13 civilians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor.

Lacking global protection, the Kurdish-led forces in northern Syria say they have reached agreements with Damascus to allow reinforcements to be sent to Afrin from other Kurdish-dominated areas - Kobani and the Jazeera region.

A number of USA military advisers were present alongside local allied forces, and the Americans led a punishing response that other officials said killed about 100 of the assailants.

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