Rare Direct Clash Between Turkish & Syrian Armies Leaves Scores Dead & Wounded
Turkey has accused the Syrian Army of shelling Turkish positions in Idlib, killing six troops and a civilian, and wounding an additional seven soldiers, according to Al Jazeera.
Turkey’s Defense Ministry said its military immediately hit back against Syrian positions, destroying the source of fire; however, it’s unclear the extent to which the Syrian side suffered casualties. Turkey claims it’s defensive attack killed and wounded scores of Syrian troops.
Defense officials further condemned the aggression given they say Turkey gave advanced notice of their coordinates as part of a cooperative agreement with Russia. But Russia responded Monday to the criticisms by saying the Turkish positions were hit out of a lack of information.
Though disputed by Syrian sources, President Erdogan subsequently claimed the Turkish counterattack killed between 30 and 35 Syrian troops, which involved fighter jets and artillery unleashed on Syria’s military.
“Those who test Turkey’s determination with such vile attacks will understand their mistake,” he said, suggesting further Russia authorized such defensive strikes when needed. “It is not possible for us to remain silent when our soldiers are being martyred,” Erdogan added.
However, Syrian Army statements and sources still say despite the Turkish interference they’ve advanced on the flashpoint town of Saraqeb, considered crucial to liberating Idlib.
In an alarming sign that the Syrian and Turkish armies could be on the brink of broader war in Idlib and northern Syria, the Britain-based opposition group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said Turkey shelled Syrian Army positions across three provinces, killing a total of eight soldiers as of Monday.
Ankara has said Damascus’ push to take Idlib province is forcing hundreds of thousands of civilians to flee the assault towards the Turkish border, adding to Turkey’s refugee woes, which it claims has now reached 3.5 million it is hosting in its borders.
Erdogan has threatened to act militarily against pro-Assad forces if they don’t cease their destructive offensive in war-torn Idlib. It now appears he’s making good on that threat, and we could see things escalate quickly — though it remains that Idlib is still recognized by the UN as sovereign Syrian soil (now occupied by al-Qaeda linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham), which Assad has vowed to liberate “every inch” of.
Mon, 02/03/2020 – 13:05