A roadside bomb planted by Syrian militants detonated near a joint Russian-Turkish patrol in northern Syria early on July 14, injuring three Russian soldiers, the Russian Defense Ministry said. The Russian statement said an unspecified number of Turkish troops were also hurt. Two sources said there were no Turkish casualties in the attack.
Turkey said on April 5 it would minimize its troop movements in operation zones in neighbouring Syria in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Troops deployed in Syria will now enter and exit operation areas only with the permission of the head of the army, the defense ministry said. "Thus, the movement of staff and troops is minimized, unless it is mandatory," it added.
Human Rights Watch slams Turkey for ‘failing to supply water’ to northern Syria amid coronavirus pandemic
Human Rights Watch on March 31 said Turkish authorities’ failure to ensure adequate water supplies to Kurdish-held areas in Syria's northeast is compromising humanitarian agencies’ ability to prepare and protect vulnerable communities in the COVID-19 pandemic. Turkish authorities have interrupted water pumping several times since the start of the year, with the latest interruption on March 29, it cited aid organizations as saying.
Turkey has vowed to neutralize radical elements that impede the Russian-Turkish joint patrols in Syria's Idlib, the Russian Defense Ministry said on March 23. The ministry added that the latest joint patrol took place earlier in the day on a shortened route due to safety concerns. Their first joint patrol was also cut short earlier this month due to what Moscow called rebel provocations.
Two Turkish soldiers were killed in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib in a rocket attack by "some radical groups," the Defense Ministry said late on March 19.
Russia and Turkey cut short their first joint patrol in Syria's Idlib on March 15 after rebels and civilians opposed to a ceasefire agreement cut off a main roadway to block its path. Hundreds of civilians and rebels cut off the roadway, rejecting the presence of Russian forces and what they said was an agreement that did not guarantee their re-settlement after being pushed out by violence.
Two more Turkish soldiers were killed by government forces in northwest Syria, the defense ministry said on March 4. NATO member Turkey has seen 59 troops killed in Idlib since the beginning of February. The latest casualties included six wounded, the defense ministry said, adding it retaliated and struck Syrian targets.
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham praised Turkey's efforts in Syria's Idlib. "Very much appreciate what Turkey is doing to stand with the people of Idlib, Syria. It is time for the world, including the United States, to declare a no-fly zone over Idlib before the humanitarian crisis escalates," he said.
The Istanbul Governor's Office has banned anti-war rhetoric, meetings and propaganda until March 10 to ensure "peace and safety in the city." The official statement from the governor's office said that such ideology could lead to public unrest amid the government's military operations in Idlib.
Libya's eastern-based government linked to military commander Khalifa Haftar opened an embassy in Syria on March 3 and called for the two countries to unite in their common fight against Turkey-backed militant groups. "Terrorism will kill any Arab country if it's permitted and if the criminal [President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan is permitted to win this fight," Syria's deputy foreign minister Faisal Mekdad said at a ceremony to open the embassy.
A U.S. delegation arrived in Turkey on March 2 to hold talks on the situation in the embattled province of Idlib, Syria. During their visit, the U.S. delegation is expected to meet representatives of the UN and NGOs to discuss the humanitarian crisis of some one million refugees fleeing the clashes in Idlib.
Iran's Foreign Ministry accused the United States of compromising the Astana peace process between Iran, Turkey and Russia in an official statement on Feb. 28. The statement also claimed that the U.S. "has always sought to create tensions in the region in an irresponsible manner" and that it justifies its presence in Syria with its interest in their oil resources.
Radar tracks showed that Syrian and Russian forces were flying in formation during the attack that killed at least 36 Turkish soldiers in Syria's Idlib province on Feb. 27, Permanent Representative of Turkey Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioğlu said on Friday. "Turkish forces were alone in that area. The logical conclusion of that is that they were deliberately targeted," he said, disputing the Russian narrative.
A 'Justice March' that lawyers from across Turkey were planning to conduct on Mar. 2 to protest the decay of the judicial system has been postponed in light of the death of 33 Turkish soldiers in Syrian army attacks in Idlib, the Ankara Bar Association said. The march would have been carried out "in search of judicial independence, a state of law and a fair judiciary and to condemn the executive pressures on the judiciary."
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that three Turkish soldiers were killed in Syria's Idlib, adding that developments there are turning in Ankara's favor. "Our battle will continue. We are saying that we're in Idlib as per the Adana Agreement," Erdoğan said, referring to an agreement signed in 1998 by Turkey’s then-President Süleyman Demirel and Syria’s then-President Hafez al-Assad.