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Five Killed, Five injured as Syrian regime troops shelled Turkish military position in #Idlib

ISTANBUL — Five Turkish soldiers were killed Monday after Syrian government forces shelled a Turkish military position in Syria's northern Idlib province, according to a statement by Turkey's Defense Ministry and a presidential spokesperson.

According to the reports, the shelling, which also injured five soldiers, was the second deadly attack on Turkish troops in the province this month during an intensifying standoff between Turkey and Syria over the fate of Idlib, Syria’s last rebel-held enclave.

The post was established last week, according to Daily Sabah, which reported that the Turkish forces were retaliating after an airstrike at the airport, between Idlib city and Aleppo.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was set to meet with Defense Minister Hulusi Akar later on Monday.
Turkey has demanded a cease-fire and in recent days and sent hundreds of troops to reinforce the military observation posts that it maintains in Idlib, to discourage further Syrian advances.

The Turkish ministry statement Monday said the soldiers died as a result of “intense artillery shelling by the regime.” The soldiers were in Syria “to prevent conflict, ensure our border security, and prevent migration.”

The ministry did not specify where the Turkish soldiers had been killed. Local news reports said the shelling targeted troops stationed at a military airbase in Taftanaz, about eight miles northeast of Idlib’s provincial capital.

“A heinous attack occurred today in Idlib, where our military serves, pursuant to our rights under international law, to end the violence and mitigate the humanitarian crisis,” said Fahrettin Altun, the Turkish president’s communications director.

“Turkey retaliated against the attack to destroy all enemy targets and avenging our fallen troops,” Altun tweeted. The war criminal, who ordered today’s heinous attack, targeted the entire international community, not just Turkey. The statement said.

“The Turkish Armed Forces, who tirelessly serve the cause of peace and stability around the world, will continue to crush anyone who dares to target our flag,” he said.

Turkey had retaliated against unspecified Syrian army positions, the statement added. “The necessary response was given,” the statement said. “The targets have been destroyed.”

On Feb. 3, shelling by Syrian government forces killed seven Turkish soldiers and a civilian employee of the Turkish military. In the aftermath of attack, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey had carried out retaliatory air and artillery attacks that killed not leas that thirty five Syrian soldiers.

Erdogan sent military and munition reinforcement last week, threatened further military action if Syria’s government did not withdraw by the end of February from an area of Idlib previously designated as a “de-escalation” zone by Russia and Turkey.

Ankara has been supporting the rebels against Assad’s forces and set up military posts in Idlib under a 2018 deal with Russia to halt a regime offensive in the province. Two of those outposts are now behind Syrian military lines, according to Erdogan.

United Nation said nearly 700,000 people have been displace and forced to flee the northwest region since December, mostly due to Syrian and Russian bombardment and the ongoing ground offensive to recapture the rest parts of the country for President Assad.

Russia's military intervention and supports since 2015 for the Damascus regime magically turned the tides of the Civil war that has nearly consumed the Syrian Assad  into his favour as the Turkish/Western and American back rebels lost grounds.

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