Several Syrian soldiers killed in Turkish drone strikes, war monitor says
Turkish drone strikes in Syria's Idlib province killed 19 regime soldiers on Sunday, a war monitor reported, as tensions soared between Damascus and Ankara.
The 19 died in strikes on a military convoy in the Jabal al-Zawiya area and a base near Maaret al-Numan city, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The report came hours after Turkey shot down two Syrian warplanes, in an escalating offensive against the Damascus regime in the country's northwestern province of Idlib.
Following weeks of violence in and around Idlib, Turkey confirmed the launch of a full military operation against Russian-backed Syrian forces after 34 Turkish soldiers died last week in an air strike blamed on Damascus.
Tensions have intensified between rebel backer Turkey and the regime's main ally Moscow, but Ankara has insisted it does not want to clash directly with Russian forces.
Turkey has also pressured Europe over the conflict by opening its border for migrants already in Turkey to cross into the continent.
The confrontation between Syrian forces and NATO-member Turkey has prompted worries over a wider conflict and a migrant crisis in Europe similar to that of 2015.
Turkey has 12 observation posts established in rebel-held Idlib following a 2018 deal between Ankara and Moscow signed in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
But the regime recently has pressed ahead with an assault, killing hundreds of civilians and forcing nearly a million to flee from their homes in the region.
Rebel-supporter Turkey and Damascus ally Russia previously worked closely to prevent a regime offensive in Idlib despite being on opposing sides of the nine-year war.
Erdogan on Saturday called on Russia to "get out of our way" in Idlib and leave Turkey "face to face with the regime" in Idlib.
The latest developments has strained relations between Ankara and Moscow but the Kremlin hopes Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan will hold talks in Moscow on March 5 or March 6, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Sunday, Interfax news agency reported.
The talks will not be easy, but both leaders confirm their focus on resolving the situation in Syria’s Idlib region, where the two countries are backing opposing sides in a conflict, Peskov said.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)
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