Turkish soldiers will continue serving peace tirelessly, crushing anyone “who dares to target our flag,” the country’s communications director said on Monday.
Fahrettin Altun’s remarks came after at least five Turkish troops were martyred and as many injured in an attack by the Assad regime forces in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province.
A similar attack by the regime forces last week in Idlib had martyred seven Turkish soldiers and one civilian contractor working with the Turkish military, and injured more than a dozen people.
“A heinous attack occurred today in Idlib, where our military serves, pursuant to our rights under international law, to end the violence and mitigate the humanitarian crisis,” said Altun on Twitter.
Altun added: “Turkey retaliated against the attack to destroy all enemy targets and avenging our fallen troops.”
Calling Syria’s Assad regime as “war criminal who ordered today’s heinous attack,” Altun emphasized that the entire international community was targeted, not just Turkey.
“The Turkish Armed Forces, who tirelessly serve the cause of peace and stability around the world, will continue to crush anyone who dares to target our flag, to reassure our friends, and to strike fear into the hearts of our enemies,” he stressed, adding: “I pray for our sons, who perished in the said attack, and wish a speedy recovery to our wounded.”
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 the 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 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 over 3.7 million migrants since the start of the Syrian civil war.