Turkish troops were acting inside combat units with terrorists in the Idlib province
Turkish troops were acting inside “combat units” with jihadist militants in Idlib province when they were targeted by a Syrian government airstrike on Thursday, Russia’s Defense Ministry said.
The airstrike was carried out when the Syrian Army was repelling a large-scale offensive by terrorist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an offshoot of Al-Qaeda in Syria, inside the Idlib ‘de-escalation zone,’ the Russian military said on Friday.
The Defense Ministry said that the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria was in constant contact with Ankara, “regularly” requesting and receiving information on the whereabouts of Turkish troops. And, according to the data submitted by Turkey, there were no Turkish soldiers near Behun when the Syrian Army was fighting terrorists there.
Turkish officials have slammed Damascus for the airstrike. Vice President Fuat Oktay warned that the Syrian “regime elements will pay a heavy price for this treacherous attack.”
It is not the first time that Russia has accused Ankara of failing to properly notify it and the Syrian government about the movement of Turkish military inside the Idlib “de-escalation zone.” Earlier this month, six Turkish soldiers were killed when their convoy came under fire west of Saraqib after they moved there “without informing the Russian side,” Moscow said at the time.
Syria’s northwestern Idlib province is the last-remaining stronghold of anti-government militants, some of which are jihadist groups and some are Turkish-backed militants. A de-escalation zone was set up there by Turkey and Russia in 2018. Since then, Ankara has accused the Syrian Army of violating the ceasefire and attacking civilians. Moscow, meanwhile, has said that Turkey has failed on its promise to clear the area of jihadist fighters.