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Turkey: 33 Turkish soldiers killed in Syria, NATO meeting called

28th Feb 2020
Turkey: 33 Turkish soldiers killed in Syria, NATO meeting called

By Davut Demircan, Ozcan Yildirim and Mumin Altas

 

ANKARA (AA): The “murderer regime” in Syria and those who encourage it will pay the heaviest price for their treachery, Turkey’s ruling party spokesman said early Friday. At least 33 Turkish soldiers were killed and tens of others injured in the attack in Syria.

In a post on Twitter, Omer Celik, spokesman for the Justice and Development Party, extended his condolences to the families of the Turkish soldiers who were killed in an airstrike. Turkey is accusing Syrian Government on the attacked in Idlib, northwestern Syria late Thursday.

Celik wished a quick recovery to the injured.

He underlined that the “heinous attack” will meet with a response it deserves.

Celik said Turkey is determined to continue its struggle in line with international law to achieve its targets.

When asked Turkey’s next diplomatic steps, Celik said a consultation process with the NATO military alliance would start early Friday.

“It must not be forgotten that the Turkish Armed Forces protect both Turkey’s national security and the southern border of NATO. An attack directed towards Turkey means an attack on NATO,” he said.

Also speaking on Turkish television, Celik said Turkey’s refugee policy has not changed, but Turkey will no longer be able to contain the refugees.

In September 2018, Turkey and Russia agreed to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.

However, the Kremlin has said Turkey had failed to deliver on a promise to neutralise extremists in Idlib, something it called unacceptable, the Foreign Ministry reminded Ankara its forces were in Syria without the blessing of the Syrian government, and the Defence Ministry said Turkish troops were seriously aggravating the situation on the ground in Idlib.

The Russian Defence Ministry said in a statement  that “The real reason for the crisis in the Idlib de-escalation zone unfortunately is the non-fulfilment by our Turkish colleagues of their undertakings to separate moderate opposition militants from terrorists.”

More than 1,300 civilians have been killed in attacks by Syria and Russian forces in the zone claimed Turkey.

The de-escalation zone is currently home to 4 million civilians, including hundreds of thousands displaced in recent years .

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an alliance of terrorist groups, is the strongest militant groups in northern Syria and largely controls Idlib province, including the provincial capital and the border crossing with Turkey at Bab al-Hawa.

The UN, US and Turkey consider HTS group associated with al-Qa’ida as a terrorist organisation.

Other main rebel groups in Idlib are: National Liberation Front (Turkish-backed rebel alliance); Hurras al-Din (pro-al-Qa’ida HTS offshoot) and Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP, Chinese Uighur-dominated group)

More than 1.7 million Syrians have moved near the Turkish border due to intense attacks.

Since the eruption of the bloody civil war in Syria in 2011, Turkey has taken in some 3.7 million Syrians who fled their country, making it the world’s top refugee hosting country.

*Writing by Fahri Aksut

Additional report by The Muslim News

[Photo: People are seen around damaged buildings and marketplace after airstrikes carried out by Syrian Government over Idlib, Syria on February 25, 2020. Photographer: Muhammed Said/AA]

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