Turkish soldiers killed in Syria airstrike


Rebel supporter Turkey and Damascus ally Russian Federation have worked closely on Syria in recent years despite being on opposing sides of the nine-year conflict.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he will give Syrian forces until the end of the month to withdraw from Idlib.

The latest displacement to areas near the Syrian border with Turkey came from western Aleppo province, the scene of heavy fighting in recent days.

A lot of them are now in Idlib and Aleppo governorates, where freezing conditions are creating a grave humanitarian situation.

It says a lot of them are women and children.

Ankara insists that it wants to avoid a humanitarian disaster but also wants to avoid flow of refugees into Turkey, which is already home to 3.6 million Syrians.

The Syrian army had also opened the global roadway from northern Aleppo to the towns of Zahraa and Nubl towards the Turkish border, a military news service run by Lebanon's Assad-allied pro-Damascus Hezbollah group said.

Syrian warplanes flew in the sky in a show of force and celebration. Syrian Tourism Minister Rami Radwan Martini and Transport Minister Ali Hammoud had earlier opened the airport for business. It has been closed since 2012 due to fighting after Aleppo fell into rebel hands. With control of this main highway the Syrian Army appears to be on the verge of controlling the whole of Aleppo Province.

Witnesses also reported air strikes in southern areas of Idlib province in what the opposition said was a "scorched earth policy" that has left dozens of towns and villages in ruins.

Hundreds have been killed during that period, the vast majority of them victims of attacks by the Syrian government and its allies, according to the UN. A truce reached between the two countries collapsed in late 2019, leading to the current Syrian offensive, backed by Russian Federation.

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Turkey, which supports rebels looking to oust Mr Assad, has been outraged since Syrian attacks in the Idlib region killed 13 Turkish troops in two weeks. That has led to clashes between Syrian and Turkish troops.

"The victory over terrorists is unvoidable" in Idlib, Lavrov told the Munich Security Conference, as tensions rise between Moscow and Ankara, which backs Syria's opposition forces. "We are counting down, we are making our final warnings", he added. "We have not reached the desired results as yet", Erdogan said, addressing legislators from his ruling party in Parliament.

Last week, top US Syria envoy James Jeffrey visited Ankara, calling for closer collaboration with Turkey not only in Syria but also in Libya, especially against Russia, "We are both very concerned about the role of Russia in Libya and in Syria, in general, and in the Idlib offensive".

On Wednesday, Erdoğan openly threatened Syrian forces, declaring, "In the event of the tiniest harm to our soldiers at observation posts or anywhere else, starting today, I declare that we will hit regime forces in Idlib and anywhere else".

Talks between Russian Federation and Turkey meant to reduce tensions in northwestern Syria did not yield a "satisfactory result" for Ankara, but both sides agreed to continue negotiations, a spokesman for Turkey's president said Tuesday. The official said however, that the sides agreed to continue discussions.

The Turkish forces and the allied rebels are preparing an offensive against the Syrian forces in Nairab days after the Turkey-backed rebels briefly captured it before the army regained it again, according to the watchdog group.

"We were satisfied with the agreements reached a year ago in Sochi", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Michelle Bachelet's comments came a day after Syrian President Bashar Assad pledged to press ahead with a military campaign in the northwest.

"The violence in north-west Syria is indiscriminate", Mark Lowcock, U.N. Humanitarian Affairs chief, said on Monday. He added that airport was secured during the Syrian war, despite attacks by armed groups. Basic infrastructure is falling apart.