Turkey says its soldier was killed in Idlib as tensions between Ankara & Damascus boil over
A Turkish soldier has been killed in the Syrian northwestern Idlib province in an airstrike by the Syrian Army, Turkish local authorities have said amid the ongoing crisis between Ankara and Damascus in the region.
A soldier identified as Mecit Demir has been killed in a bombing in Idlib, the governor’s office of the southern Turkish Gaziantep province said in a Twitter post.
Turkey, which supports what it called “moderate” armed groups, has recently flooded the region with troops and equipment in response to an offensive of the Syrian Army. The dominant force in the troubled province is Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an Al-Qaeda affiliate previously known as Al-Nusra, which both Moscow and Damascus describe as a major terrorist threat in the region and one of the reasons for the Syrian Army’s continued military operation.
Damascus has dealt a series of defeats to the militants in its quest to liberate a strategic highway linking the national capital to one of Syria’s biggest cities – Aleppo.
Most recently, Turkish artillery struck Syrian positions as militants launched a “major offensive” to retake lost ground. The barrage ceased, though, when Moscow contacted Ankara. The Syrian Army supported by the Russian Air Force also managed to repel the attack.
Moscow also stepped up its diplomatic efforts to ease tensions on the ground. Yet, despite the “intensified contacts” between presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayip Erdogan, the fight in Idlib has showed no signs of waning so far.
On Saturday, the Syrian SANA news agency reported – citing military sources – that Damascus would take a tougher approach toward defending its airspace. Any foreign military warplane violating the Syrian airspace would be “confronted” by the Syrian Air Force and targeted by the air defense units, the report said.
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