At least 33 Turkish troops killed in Syria's Idlib

At least 33 Turkish troops killed in Syria's Idlib

ANKARA - Anadolu Agency
At least 33 Turkish troops killed in Syrias Idlib

At least 33 Turkish soldiers have been killed and tens of others injured in an airstrike by forces of the Bashar al-Assad regime in Idlib, northwestern Syria, a Turkish official said on Feb. 27.

"There are critically wounded [soldiers following the attack], and they are being treated at hospitals," Rahmi Doğan, the governor of Turkey's Hatay province, said.

While the initial number of killed soldiers was nine, it rose to 33 in the following hours, and Doğan said later there are tens of others injured but their condition is not critical and they have also been hospitalized.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Feb. 27 chaired an emergency security meeting following an attack on Turkish troops.

The closed-door meeting, which continued until early on Feb. 28 at the presidential complex in the capital Ankara, lasted around six hours.

Erdoğan, Putin agree new measures needed to ease tensions

Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed during a phone call on Feb. 28 on the need for new measures to be put in place to ease tensions and normalise the situation in northwest Syria, the Kremlin said.

In a readout of the phone call, the Kremlin said Putin and Erdogan agreed to organise a top-level meeting to address the situation in Syria's Idlib province that the presidents said was a matter of "serious concern".

Turkish parties extend condolences for killed troops
Turkish parties extend condolences for killed troops

Meanwhile, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar went to the border between Turkey and Syria following a security meeting convened by Turkey's president.

Akar and other commanders controlled the operation by ground and air support units against Assad regime targets in Idlib from a center in Turkey's Hatay province, bordering Syria.

Ankara and two top generals visited soldiers wounded by regime airstrike in Idlib.

After visiting the tactical command center, Akar went to the hospital in the southern Hatay province, near the Syria border, with Land Forces Commander Ümit Dündar and Air Forces Commander Hasan Küçükakyüz.

Doctors at the hospital told Akar and the generals about the soldiers’ conditions.

"After the treacherous attack, more than 200 regime targets were put under heavy fire with our aircraft, armed drone and ground fire support vehicles," Akar said. 

Turkish troops attacked despite coordination with Russia, defense minister says
Turkish troops attacked despite coordination with Russia, defense minister says

Following the attack, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu spoke with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg over the phone, according to diplomatic sources, but no information on the topic of discussion was disclosed.

Turkey's presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalın held a phone conversation with U.S. National Security Advisor Robert C. O'Brien, according to the Turkish presidential spokesperson's office.

VP slams Syrian regime attack

Syria's Bashar al-Assad and regime elements will pay a heavy price for their attack on Turkish troops, Turkey's vice president said on Feb. 28

“Head of the terror state Assad, who will go down in history as a war criminal, and regime elements will pay a heavy price for this treacherous attack,” Fuat Oktay said in a written statement on the attack.

Oktay wished Allah's mercy on the killed and a speedy recovery to the wounded.

'Turkey puts Syrian regime targets under fire'

Turkey has put under fire all known targets of the regime in Syria with its air and ground fire support elements, the Turkish communications director said.

In a statement, Fahrettin Altun said a security summit meeting is ongoing at the presidential complex in Turkish capital Ankara.

“The summit stressed that the [Bashar-al] Assad regime is responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of Syrians, and agreed to retaliate against the illegitimate regime which has turned its barrel against our soldiers who are on duty to protect the rights and interests of the Republic of Turkey,” Altun said.

He said Turkey will continue to put the known targets under fire.

NATO chief condemns attacks, UN top diplomat reiterates call for ceasefire
NATO chief condemns attacks, UN top diplomat reiterates call for ceasefire

“With this opportunity, we call on all international community, especially the parties of the Astana Process, to fulfill their responsibilities in order to stop the crimes of the regime committed against the humanity,” he added.

Altun also noted that what happened in Rwanda and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the past could not be repeated in Idlib.

“Blood of our heroes will not go in vain. Our activities in Syria will continue until hands reaching to our flag are broken,” he said.

In September 2018, Turkey and Russia agreed to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.

But more than 1,300 civilians have been killed in attacks by the regime and Russian forces in the zone since then as the ceasefire continues to be violated.

The de-escalation zone is currently home to 4 million civilians, including hundreds of thousands displaced in recent years by regime forces throughout the war-torn country.

More than 1.7 million Syrians have moved near the Turkish border due to intense attacks.

Since the eruption of the bloody civil war in Syria in 2011, Turkey has taken in some 3.7 million Syrians who fled their country, making it the world's top refugee hosting country.