Turkey hits Syrian military targets after strikes kill 5 soldiers

Wednesday, 12 Feb, 2020

Press Secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov said that the meeting of presidents of Russia and Turkey Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan is not yet available.

Eight Turkish military and civilian personnel and 13 Syrian soldiers were killed in fighting last week.

"The Syrian government forces have now arrived in the Miznaz region, where violent clashes with the rebels are taking place", he told MEE, adding that the eastern suburbs of Idlib city and southwestern outskirts of Aleppo were now mostly in Assad's control.

He added that the agreement between Russian Federation and Turkey on Idlib had not been signed yet.

Meanwhile, Syrian soldiers came close to regaining full control of the country's main north-south highway. Turkey is home to some 3.6 million Syrian refugees and has concerns of more flowing into its border.

"The current Idlib tensions embody the difference of interests both of Russia and of Turkey that has never stopped to exist", said Russian expert Zaur Gasimov of the University of Bonn.

Five Turkish soldiers were killed on Monday in an attack carried out by Syrian government forces in Syria's northwest.

"We have dealt a resounding blow to the Syrian [regime]". Especially in Idlib, they got what they deserved. The Observatory said the airstrike killed 12 civilians, half of them children, and wounded about 30. Following meetings at the Turkish Foreign Ministry, the Russian delegation also met with Turkey's presidential aide and spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin. Ankara expressed its determination to respond and take every kind of measures against attacks that aim at harming the political process, said the statement. Erdogan has warned Turkey would drive back Assad's forces unless they withdraw by the end of the month.

Syrian regime attacks on Turkish forces prompted some of the most serious confrontations between Ankara and Damascus.

The exodus, which has seen endless convoys of families with their mattresses stacked on trucks criss-cross the war-torn province, is the biggest of the nine-year-old conflict, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

The rebels are a mix of nationalist factions and jihadists who have had deadly rivalries but are now closing ranks.

"At the moment, we consider the most important thing is the implementation of. agreements (between Russia and Turkey). and of course the suppression of any terrorist activity directed against the Syrian armed forces and Russian military facilities", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Turkish media and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based monitoring group, reported that Syrian pro-government forces shelled Taftanaz airbase, about 13km (8 miles) north-east of the city of Idlib.

Aleppo, once Syria's economic hub, was the scene of heavy fighting between 2012 and 2016 which saw large-scale death and destruction.

Hours later, an airstrike hit the city of Idlib, the provincial capital, killing seven people and wounding almost two dozen, according to the Syrian Civil Defense, also known as White Helmets. Later on, a retaliatory government airstrike on a nearby city killed at least seven civilians, opposition activists said.

Many of the 700,000 people who have fled the violence had already been displaced from home numerous times as the regime has clawed back territory from rebels over the course of the war.

"This is, from our initial analysis, the largest number of people displaced in a single period since the Syrian crisis began nearly nine years ago", a spokesman of the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs said on Tuesday. Many families reportedly are seeking shelter in makeshift camps and unfinished buildings.