At least five Turkish troops were martyred and five others injured in an attack by the Assad regime forces in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province on Monday, the country’s National Defense Ministry said.
This came after a similar attack by the regime forces last week in Idlib martyred seven Turkish soldiers and one civilian contractor working with the Turkish military, and injured more than a dozen people.
The Turkish forces “sent as reinforcements to prevent conflicts in Idlib, to ensure border security, and to prevent migration and humanitarian tragedy came under intense artillery fire by the regime forces,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.
It went on to say enemy targets were immediately destroyed, adding that authorities are monitoring the situation in the volatile region.
The Turkish troops are in northwestern Syria, just across the Turkish border, as part of an anti-terror and peace mission.
Idlib has been a stronghold of opposition and anti-government armed groups since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011.
In September 2018, Turkey and Russia agreed to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.
But more than 1,800 civilians there have been killed in attacks by regime and Russian forces since then, flouting both the 2018 cease-fire and a new one that started on Jan. 12.
More than 1.5 million Syrians have moved toward the Turkish border due to intense attacks over the past year.
Turkey remains the country with most refugees in the world, hosting more than 3.7 million migrants since the start of the Syrian civil war.