2 Turkish soldiers martyred in regime airstrike in Syria's Idlib region
"Two Turkish soldiers were martyred on Thursday in an air strike in the northwestern region of Idlib. Five other soldiers were wounded," Turkey's defence ministry said in written statement shared on the official social media account. The ministry also added that Turkish forces hit back at the pro-Assad militants in the last rebel-held province, also targeting tanks and armoured carriers.
Turkey said on Thursday that two Turkish soldiers were martyred and another five were wounded in the Assad regime air strikes near the northwestern region of Idlib on Thursday, adding that more than 50 pro-Assad militants had been killed in retaliation.
The attacks come a day after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned of an imminent Turkish military offensive in Idlib, where Syrian forces, backed by Russia air power, have mounted an offensive to capture the region.
Earlier this month, 13 Turkish soldiers were martyred in the Assad regime attacks, prompting Erdoğan to say that Turkey will strike the regime elements "anywhere" in Syria if another soldier was hurt.
In a statement, the defence ministry said five tanks, two armoured personnel carriers, two armoured trucks and one howitzer were also destroyed in retaliation.
Shortly after Turkey's Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said the soldiers, who were in Idlib to "establish peace and manage humanitarian aid operations," were martyred by "an attack carried out by the (Assad) regime."
The ministry also wished condolences to the families of the martyrs and to the Turkish Armed Forces, whose troops are in the border region as part of a de-escalation zone meant to protect the local civilian population.
Responding to Turkish soldiers being martyred by Assad regime forces in recent weeks, Turkey has swiftly retaliated, neutralizing hundreds of Syria troops, and warning that it would not tolerate any Turkish soldiers coming to harm.
Syria has been mired in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million others displaced, according to UN figures.
Idlib, near Turkey's southern border, falls within a de-escalation zone laid out in a deal between Turkey and Russia in late 2018. The Syrian regime and its allies, however, have consistently broken the terms of the cease-fire, launching frequent attacks inside the territory where acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.
The de-escalation zone is currently home to about 4 million civilians, including hundreds of thousands displaced in recent years by regime forces throughout the war-torn country.
Some 1 million Idlib refugees have moved towards the Turkish border in recent months, fleeing attacks by the Assad regime and its allies, and producing a desperate humanitarian situation.
Turkey has called for an immediate halt to the attacks on Idlib, and for the cease-fire to be followed, warning that if the attacks do not stop Turkey will act.