34 Turkish soldiers killed in huge Syrian regime airstrike as fighting continues on deadly trajectory

34 Turkish soldiers killed in huge Syrian regime airstrike as fighting continues on deadly trajectory
3 min read
28 February, 2020
At least 34 Turkish soldiers were killed in Syrian regime airstrikes in Idlib and several more were badly injured in a huge regime attack.
Fighting in Idlib has intensified [Getty]
A deadly airstrike at the hands of Syrian regime soldiers has killed 33 Turkish soldiers as fighting intensifies in Idlib, says Rahmi Dogan, governor of Turkey’s Hatay province.

However, that number could be at least 34 according to Syrian Observatory on Human Rights, a war monitor.

Several more were severely injured in the attack in Idlib in the north-west, though other reports put the death toll higher. 

Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan held an emergency security meeting after the strike. 

Twitter has also become unavailable across Turkey as of 11:30 p.m. local time for users of national provider Turk Telekom following the alleged attack on Turkish troops in Idlib.

There are reports that Moscow blocked Ankara from evacuating injured troops via a helicopter, and casualties are currently being treated at the Reyhanli State Hospital across the border in Hatay province.

Erdogan wants Syrian regime forces to pull back from positions were Turkey has set up military observation posts, and the country has also threatened to attack government forces if they do not stop their advance. 

Earlier on Thursday Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealed that three troops were killed in Idlib.

Turkey immediately responded to the attack by hitting Syrian regime “targets,” the Turkish defence ministry said on Twitter.

“we have three martyrs in Idlib, but the regime’s losses are very high,” Erdogan said during a speech in Ankara, without giving details.

Despite the losses, Erdogan said developments in Idlib had taken a “favourable turn”.

Backed by Russian airstrikes, Damascus has pressed an offensive in an effort to take Idlib.

Such attacks on Turkish forces have frosted relations between Ankara and the Syrian regime’s key ally Russia.

Fahrettin Altun, Erdogan’s top press aide, warned Damascus in a series of tweets on Thursday against attack’s on civilians and Turkish soldiers.

“We have and will continue to respond. If these attacks continue, we are moving forward with our plans to stop the regime from killing and displacing more people,” Altun said, calling on the international community to “act now”.

Russian diplomats and military officials on Thursday held a second round of negotiations with their Turkish counterparts.

The Turkish foreign ministry later said Turkey "stressed the need to secure an immediate ceasefire and discussed what steps should be taken on the ground to achieve this goal" during talks.

The ministry said it also emphasised the importance of avoiding a humanitarian disaster and mass migration.

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar earlier told reporters Turkey would "decide how to move forward based on" the outcome of the talks.

The minister said Ankara sought access to the airspace above Idlib, controlled by Russia, to drones, but the foreign ministry did not make any comment on the issue.

Agencies contributed to this report

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