2nd regime helicopter downed in Syria's northwest


A second Bashar Assad regime helicopter was downed in Syria's northwestern Idlib province, local reports said Friday.

According to footage circulated on social media, the helicopter was shot down near west Aleppo. The helicopter took a direct hit while flying over western Aleppo province in a rural area that falls within the de-escalation zone of the neighboring province of Idlib.

The Syrian opposition aircraft observatory said that after taking off from Hamah Military Airport, a regime warplane returned to the runway as the traffic control tower issued a warning about the downed helicopter.

The regime managed to take control of wide swathes of Idlib and is poised to seize control of the strategic M5 highway, which connects the capital Damascus to Aleppo, Syria's second-largest city.

The Turkish military has been retaliating against Assad regime forces and has been reinforcing its observation posts in Idlib following two attacks by the regime, which left 13 Turkish soldiers and a civilian dead, and 45 others injured.

President Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan said Wednesday that Turkey will hit all targets it deems a threat, while he reiterated once again that Turkey expects the Assad regime to retreat behind the observation posts by the end of February or face the consequences.

Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has also reiterated Turkey's determination to ensure security in Idlib, noting that the country has alternative plans if all else fails.