By Sefa Mutlu
ISTANBUL (AA) – President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday said a military helicopter was downed in southern Hatay province during the ongoing Operation Olive Branch.
Erdogan’s remarks came at a ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party's provincial meeting in Istanbul.
“[The perpetrators] will pay a heavy price [for downing theTurkish helicopter],” Erdogan said.
Turkey on Jan. 20 launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin, northwestern Syria.
According to Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkish borders and the region as well as to protect the Syrian people from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.
The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council’s decisions, self-defense rights under the UN charter and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.
The military has also said that only terrorist targets are being destroyed and "utmost importance" is being given to not harm any civilians. Afrin has been a major hideout for the PYD/PKK since July 2012 when the Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without putting up a fight.