On November 26, the Syrian Kurdish Hawar News Agency (ANHA) claimed that “Turkish-backed militants” shot down three Russian helicopters over the northern Aleppo countryside. An official of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) told ANHA that several Russian pilots and high-ranking officers were killed or injured in the supposed attack on the Russian helicopters.
However, Syrian pro-government and opposition sources said that not a single Russian helicopter was shot down over the northern Aleppo countryside. According to the sources, ANHA report is nothing but fake news.
According to local sources three Russian helicopters, a Mi-8AMTSH and two Ka-52 made a low pass over the towns of Hayyan, Haritan and Anadan in the northern Aleppo countryside on November 26 morning. The sources also said that the helicopters were targeted with light machineguns by local militants. However, not a single helicopter was hit or downed according to the reports.
— Sınır Ötesi Harekat (@AhmetM_08) November 26, 2017
The towns of Hayyan, Haritan and Anadan are under the control of the Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement, and Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). According to experts, these groups have some links with Turkey. However, they are not a part of the Turkish-backed forces in the northern Idlib countryside.
Pro-government activists believe that ANHA’s report was aimed at creating tensions between Turkey and Russia in northern Syria. A very dangerous game that the YGP and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) might be willing to play in the near future to secure their positions in Afrin. The SDF and YPG believe that a good Russian-Turkish relation is against its interests.