United Nations rights chief slams 'no-holds-barred' Syria violence

Florence Parly

Florence Parly

Kurdish news sources said the the helicopter was shot down in Afrin's Rajo district. "There are understandings between the two forces. for the sake of delivering reinforcements to Afrin", Kino Gabriel, spokesman for the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), said.

A helicopter is seen firing two rockets in the area as plumes of smoke from the crash rise over the trees.

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

On January 20, Turkey launched a military operation against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia in the Afrin region, backing Syrian rebels with air strikes and ground troops. Turkey has always been one of the main allies of the anti-Assad rebels. But Afrin is separated from the bigger Kurdish-controlled region further east by a 100km-wide zone controlled by the Turkish military and its Syrian militia allies.

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The Turkish government, in turn, tried to present its fight against YPG - effectively a branch of long-time enemy number one, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) - as a battle against the Islamic State (IS).

Since the beginning of the operation, the Turkish Armed Forces and Free Syrian Army have managed to capture 48 different strategic areas from terrorists including a town center, 31 villages, three rural areas and 13 hills.

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 US-led coalition.

Also Friday, Save the Children said tens of thousands of children are in immediate danger in the besieged eastern suburbs of the capital of Damascus, also known as eastern Ghouta, which has been under intense shelling and airstrikes that left more than 200 dead in the past five days.

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

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".

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

A spokesperson for the United Nations chief said: "The Secretary-General stresses once again that all concerned in Syria and the region have a responsibility and must abide by global law and relevant Security Council resolutions".

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