Two Turkish soldiers killed in Syria’s Idlib

Published March 20, 2020
In this September 2019 file photo, a Turkish military vehicle drives on a joint patrol with US troops in the Syrian village of al-Hashisha on the outskirts of Tal Abyad town on the border with Turkey. — AFP/File
In this September 2019 file photo, a Turkish military vehicle drives on a joint patrol with US troops in the Syrian village of al-Hashisha on the outskirts of Tal Abyad town on the border with Turkey. — AFP/File

ANKARA: Two Turkish soldiers were killed in the rebel-held northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, officials said Thursday, the country’s first reported casualties since a ceasefire began earlier this month.

A ceasefire was agreed in Idlib — the last Syrian outpost out of the control of President Bashar al-Assad’s forces — between rebel-backer Turkey and regime-ally Russia which entered into force on March 6. It has largely held.

But Turkey’s ruling party deputy chairman, Mahir Unal, said on Twitter on Thursday that a soldier was killed in a “heinous attack” in the Idlib town of Muhambal.

Unal did not say who was responsible for the attack.

The governor’s office of the central Turkish province of Sivas tweeted that a 25-year-old soldier from the area was also killed in the Syrian region.

The governorate provided no details on how the soldier was killed or exactly where.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday that four regime fighters and a rebel were killed in clashes in southern Idlib.

Ankara hopes the ceasefire will stem a months-long government assault on the jihadist-dominated region, which is home to some three million people.

Nearly a million in Idlib were forced to flee towards the Turkish border during a regime-led offensive underway since December, which killed around 500 civilians.

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2020

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