Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said up to 35 Syrian government soldiers had been killed Monday in response, and pledged further retaliation.
Erdogan said up to 40 Syrian targets were being considered as part of the operation, and warned Russia — the most powerful backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — to “not stand in our way.”
“We told the Russian authorities you are not party to this it is totally the regime and do not stand in our way. Because we have martyrs, we cannot remain silent. We will continue to respond, including with our F-16s, our howitzers, our artillery, it is all in the field firing on the targets determined by our national intelligence,” Erdogan said.
Russia’s military said Monday that Turkey had not given advance warning of Turkish troop reinforcements in Idlib.
“Overnight from February 2 to 3, units of the Turkish forces conducted maneuvers inside the Idlib de-escalation zone without giving notice to the Russian side and came under the fire of Syrian government troops on terrorists in the area west of the settlement of Saraqib,” the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Opposing Sides in Syria said, according to state-run news agency RIA Novosti.
On January 12, Russia and Turkey announced a ceasefire that has failed to end the violence.
Civilians killed in northwest Syria
Syrian government attacks killed 20 people in opposition-held parts of northwest Syria on Sunday and Monday, according to the volunteer rescue group, the White Helmets.
Nine were killed in an attack on a vehicle carrying members of the same family in the western countryside of Aleppo on Monday. An airstrike on a house in Idlib also killed eight on Sunday, according to the rescue group.
The recent violence has pushed people out of multiple towns. Syria announced the capture of the opposition-held city of Maraat Al Nouman on Thursday.
UNICEF estimates that more than 300,000 people have been displaced since December and that 1.2 million children are in desperate need.
The Syrian government and Russia deny targeting civilians and say they are targeting terrorists, pointing to the dominance of Hayat Tahrir Al Sham (HTS), a former al Qaeda affiliate, in the area.
CNN’s Mary Ilyushina contributed to this report from Moscow. CNN’s Eyad Kourdi contributed from Gaziantep and CNN’s Mostafa Salem contributed from Abu Dhabi.
source: CNN NEWS