Syrian regime attack kills 5 Turkish soldiers
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
Syrians flee bombardment by government forces in the village of Kafr Nuran in the northern province of Aleppo on Sunday