Syr­ian regime at­tack kills 5 Turk­ish sol­diers

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Qam­i­nas, Syria - Syr­ian regime ar­tillery killed five Turk­ish sol­diers in Idlib on Mon­day, Turkey’s De­fence Min­istry said, as the num­ber of peo­ple dis­placed by vi­o­lence in the re­gion neared 700,000 since De­cem­ber.

The bar­rage also wounded five sol­diers in the vi­o­len­ce­plagued north­west, prompt­ing the Turk­ish mil­i­tary to re­spond by ‘de­stroy­ing targets’, the De­fence Min­istry added.

The ex­change was the sec­ond in eight days and took place in the area of Taf­tanaz, which was re­cently re­in­forced by Turkey, said the Bri­tain-based Syr­ian Ob­ser­va­tory for Hu­man Rights. Mon­day’s in­ci­dent comes a week af­ter ear­lier regime shelling killed eight Turk­ish sol­diers, prompt­ing a deadly re­sponse by the Turk­ish army.

The clashes are fur­ther strain­ing re­la­tions be­tween Da­m­as­cus and Ankara, while also in­creas­ing ten­sion be­tween Rus­sia and Turkey - the con­flict’s chief for­eign pro­tag­o­nists.

Syr­ian govern­ment forces backed by Moscow have pressed a blis­ter­ing as­sault against the last ma­jor rebel bas­tion in Syria’s north­west for more than two months.

Vi­o­lence in the prov­inces of Idlib and Aleppo has dis­placed 689,000 peo­ple, said David Swan­son, spokesman for the United Na­tion’s hu­man­i­tar­ian co­or­di­na­tion of­fice, OCHA. “The num­ber of peo­ple be­ing dis­placed in this cri­sis is now spi­ralling out of con­trol,” he said.

The ex­o­dus is one of the largest of the nine-year civil war and risks cre­at­ing one of the worst hu­man­i­tar­ian catas­tro­phes of the con­flict. It has sparked alarm from rebel backer Turkey which al­ready hosts some 3.7mn Syr­ian refugees and fears an­other in­flux.

Turkey’s De­fence Min­istry said the troops tar­geted on Mon­day had been sent ‘as re­in­force­ment to the re­gion with an aim to pre­vent clashes in Idlib, en­sure our border se­cu­rity, and stop mi­gra­tion and hu­man tragedy’.

The es­ca­la­tion be­tween Turkey and Da­m­as­cus comes as in­tense bom­bard­ment by the regime and Rus­sia killed 29 civil­ians in less than 24 hours.

The num­ber of peo­ple be­ing dis­placed in this cri­sis is now spi­ralling out of con­trol

David Swan­son

(AFP)

Syr­i­ans flee bom­bard­ment by govern­ment forces in the vil­lage of Kafr Nu­ran in the north­ern prov­ince of Aleppo on Sun­day

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