Syria war: Government shellfire kills Turkish soldiers in Idlib

Five Turkish soldiers have been killed and five others wounded by Syrian army artillery fire in north-western Syria, Turkey’s defence ministry says.

Shells reportedly struck a Turkish observation post at Taftanaz airbase in opposition-held Idlib province, where pro-government forces are mounting a major offensive.

Turkish forces retaliated by shelling Syrian army targets in the region.

A week ago, eight Turkish military personnel died in a similar attack.

Syrian soldiers, supported by Iran-backed militiamen and Russian air strikes, have captured dozens of towns and villages in Idlib since December.

Almost 700,000 civilians, the vast majority of them women and children, have been displaced by the fighting, according to the United Nations.

Turkey, which backs the Syrian opposition and fears a massive influx of refugees, has given the Syrian army until the end of February to pull back behind 12 Turkish observation posts. These were set up in Idlib under a 2017 agreement with Russia and Iran.

It has also sent hundreds of tanks and thousands of soldiers to reinforce the posts.

A Turkish defence ministry statement said the five soldiers were killed on Monday in an “intense assault that targeted our elements sent as reinforcement to the region with an aim to prevent clashes in Idlib, ensure our border security and stop migration and human tragedy”.

“Targets identified in the region were immediately targeted intensively… The targets were…

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