Reuters

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - A Turkish army helicopter was shot down by Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters near the north Syrian town of Afrin, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday and the Turkish military said two soldiers on board the aircraft died.

 

YPG sources separately confirmed the downing of the helicopter.

 

"One of our helicopters was downed just recently," Erdogan said speaking to members of his AK Party (AKP) in Istanbul. "These things will happen, we are in a war... We might lose a helicopter, but they'll pay the price for this."

 

The Turkish military in a statement did not specify a reason for why the helicopter fell. It said two soldiers on board died and technical crews were investigating the crash.

 

Ankara launched an air and ground offensive last month against Kurdish fighters in Syria's Afrin region on its border, opening a new front in the multi-sided Syrian war.

The downed helicopter was the first officially confirmed loss of a Turkish aircraft over Syria since the start of the country's long-running civil war.

(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen in Istanbul and Lisa Barrington in Beirut; Editing by Stephen Powell)