Two Turkish soldiers killed in air strike in Idlib
Two Turkish soldiers have been killed in an air strike in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib, marking the 18th military death for Turkey this month.
Turkey's Defense Ministry said early on Feb. 27 that two of its soldiers were killed and two others wounded in an air strike on Turkish forces in Syria's Idlib region.
This marks the 18th military death for Turkey this month.
The Defense Ministry said the Turkish military opened fire on Syrian government targets in response. It also said that according to various sources in the region 114 members of the Syrian forces were killed.
Syrian troops backed by Russian air power have been battling since December to eliminate the last rebel stronghold in the region.
Turkey finds itself under increasing pressure as the threat of further clashes with Syria’s military looms and tensions with Russia escalate.
Despite continued advances by Damascus's military, Turkey plans to push Syrian government forces away from its military observation posts in Idlib region this week, Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan said on Feb. 26.
"We are planning to liberate our observation posts from the surrounding (Syrian government forces) by the end of this month, one way or another," Erdoğan told his party's lawmakers in a speech.
But Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces made fresh gains in Idlib where they took a number of villages on Feb. 26, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, and a military news outlet run by Assad's Lebanese ally Hezbollah.
Erdoğan first demanded on Feb. 5 that Assad's forces pull back behind a line of Turkish observation posts by end-February, or Turkey would drive them back.
Turkey set up 12 observation posts up around a "de-escalation zone" in Idlib under a 2017 agreement with Russia and Iran, but several now find themselves behind Syrian government front lines.
Turkish and Russian officials began a third round of talks in Ankara on Feb. 26 aimed at reducing tensions in the region. Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency said the talks would continue on Feb. 27.
Two previous rounds in Ankara and Moscow have failed to yield any tangible progress.