Two Turkish soldiers killed in air strikes at Idleb
After an air strike near a Turkish military observation post in Idleb province, February 20, 2020. Abdulaziz KETAZ / AFP
Text by: RFI Follow
Two Turkish soldiers were killed and five injured Thursday, February 20, in an air strike in the Idleb region of Syria. Ankara accuses the Syrian regime, while tension continues to mount between the two parties.
Fierce fighting between Turkish forces and their Syrian back-up troops loyal to the Damascus regime claimed the lives of 27 fighters in Idleb province on Thursday. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH), which draws on a vast network of sources in the country at war, 11 pre-regime fighters and 14 pro-Turkish rebels were killed. Turkish authorities have also reported two Turkish soldiers killed in airstrikes by the Syrian regime in the Idleb region.
Moscow asks Ankara to stop supporting " terrorist groups "
The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that the Turkish-backed Syrian rebels had attacked regime soldiers south of Idleb. The statement said that Russian Su-24 bombers struck " terrorist formations " and allowed the Syrian army to repel their attack, destroying " a tank, six armored vehicles and five heavily armed all-terrain vehicles ". Turkey must stop supporting " terrorist groups ", he said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday warned of an imminent intervention in Idleb. This northwestern province of Syria, held by rebels and jihadists, is theoretically the subject of a de-escalation agreement between Turkey and Russia, but clashes have multiplied in recent weeks. Already in early February, Turkish and Syrian soldiers were killed in clashes.
Turkey has " no intention of facing Russia "
These battles between Ankara and Damascus are generating growing friction between Turkey, which supports rebel groups in Idleb, and Russia, which militarily supports the Syrian regime. Turkey has " no intention of facing Russia " over Syria, however, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar assured CNN Turk, adding that talks with Russian officials would continue.
The Syrian regime is gradually reclaiming the province of Idleb, at the cost of intensive bombing and a mass exodus. According to the UN, more than 900,000 civilians have fled the violence since December.
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