“(The perpetrators) will pay a heavy price (for downing the Turkish helicopter),” Erdogan says. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim says two military personnel "martyred" in incident.
A Turkish military helicopter was downed in southern Hatay province during the ongoing Operation Olive Branch, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday.
Erdogan’s remarks came at a provincial meeting of the governing Justice and Development (AK) Party in Istanbul.
“(The perpetrators) will pay a heavy price (for downing the Turkish helicopter),” Erdogan said.
TRT World's Francis Collings reports.
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said two Turkish military personnel were killed when the helicopter was downed during Operation Olive Branch.
"At this stage, we can say that one out of two helicopters was downed. We have two martyrs," Yildirim said in televised remarks, but said there was "no evidence (yet) in our hands to prove that it was a result of outside intervention."
The prime minister also said that an investigation had been launched into the incident.
The Turkish General Staff said in a statement that one of the ATAK helicopters crashed at around 1 pm local time (1000GMT) during ongoing operation in Afrin.
Turkey on January 20 launched Operation Olive Branch to remove YPG/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 YPG/PKK since July 2012 when the Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without putting up a fight.