Turkey’s defense ministry says two of its soldiers stationed in Syria’s Idlib province were killed and five more wounded in an “air attack” on Thursday.
“As a result of an air attack against our soldiers – who are in Idlib to ensure the ceasefire [agreed between Russia and Turkey in 2018] – two of our soldiers were martyred and five others injured,” read a statement from Turkish defense ministry published Thursday.
“According to the latest information obtained from various sources in the Idlib region, more than 50 regime fighters [were killed] and five tanks, two armored personnel carrying vehicles, two armed pickups, and a howitzer have been destroyed,” the ministry added, without specifying whether Turkish troops or its proxy forces carried out the retaliatory strikes.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) says the attack took place in the Nayrab area, east of Idlib. “At least 14 pro-Turkish militants and 11 fighters from regime forces and its allied groups were killed,” the Britain-based war monitor added.
Fahrettin Altun, head of Turkey’s Communications Directorate, said the Turkish soldiers who were targeted were “ensuring peace, and performing humanitarian actions”.
The development comes just weeks after Turkish forces exchanged fire with Syrian troops and militias loyal to the regime.
Twelve Turkish soldiers and a civilian contractor were killed earlier this month in two regime attacks. Turkey claimed it “neutralized” more than 100 Syrian soldiers in retaliation.
Turkey has 12 observation posts in Idlib and has reportedly established three more in recent weeks. Some of these observation posts have been surrounded by regime forces. Ankara has demanded these forces withdraw.
The latest escalation risks further undermining the 2018 Sochi agreement between Turkey and regime-backer Russia designed to reduce violence in the northwest province.