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Turkey launched a military offensive on 20 January to uproot the YPG from Afrin in what has been dubbed Operation Olive Branch.The YPG are considered by Turkey to be an extension of an insurgency within its own borders.

Nine Turkish soldiers were killed and eleven others were injured in cross-border operation in Syria's Afrin on Saturday, Turkish military said in a statement. "These things will happen, we are in a war ..."

The Turkish army confirmed the crash but did not comment on a cause.

The incident marks an escalation in Turkey's operation in Afrin, which aims to defeat the pro-Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and their political wing, the Democratic Union Party (PYD).

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Putin, his Russian counterpart, spoke by telephone on Thursday and agreed to strengthen military and security service coordination in Syria, according to the Kremlin.

Moscow has repeatedly blocked action in the council that would put pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

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The latter is designated as a terrorist group by Turkey.

He counted the Islamic State (IS) among them, which his group along with the US-led coalition defeated in dozens of battles across swaths of land in eastern and northern Syria, including Raqqa and Manbij, two cities that had become the center for plotting attacks in Western countries.

The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey's rights based on worldwide law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN charter, and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.

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.

In Eastern Ghouta, the last major rebel enclave near Damascus, residents described one of the most extensive bombing campaigns they have lived through in the war with multiple towns hit simultaneously and people driven into shelters for days.

At least 19 civilians, including a medic and children, were killed in Syrian government strikes on opposition-held territory near the capital Damascus on Thursday, activists said.

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