Turkey tests Russia with strikes on Syrian forces

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on February 4, 2020 - Duration: 01:35s

Turkey tests Russia with strikes on Syrian forces

The death toll from Turkey's retaliatory attacks on Syrian government troops has climbed to 76, as the conflict threatens to test ties between Ankara and Moscow.

Joe Davies reports.


Turkey tests Russia with strikes on Syrian forces

Turkey's defense minister and his commanders met on Monday (February 4) with much to discuss.

Earlier, eight Turkish military personnel were killed in shelling by Syrian government forces in the north-west Syrian region of Idlib.

Turkey retaliated.

It says 54 targets in Idlib were hit.

The death toll has jumped to 76, the minister says they were, quote, "neutralized".

The fighting threatens to test ties between Turkey's President Erdogan and Russia's President Putin.

They have a close relationship on defense, but though they work together elsewhere in Syria, they're on opposing sides in the fighting in Idlib.

Turkey dispatched a military convoy on Monday (February 3) to reinforce its observation points in Idlib, according to a private news agency.

The Syrian Observatory, a monitoring group based in the UK, says some 320 Turkish trucks and military vehicles had also entered Idlib the day before.

Turkey says they were meant to prevent clashes there but were instead hit by Syrian shelling.

Russia says the Turkish units came under fire from Syrian government forces after moving without notifying Moscow first.

Turkey denies this, and says it co-ordinated its military movements with them.

Speaking in Kiev on Monday, where he met his Ukrainian counterpart, President Erdogan said Turkey is making Syria pay the price.

Idlib is the last big rebel stronghold after nearly nine years of war in Syria.

Government forces there - backed by Russian air power - have made large advances, prompting Turkey to warn it may launch a military operation unless the fighting is stopped.

Erdogan accuses Russia of violating a 2017 agreement to reduce fighting in the region - a charge that Russia denies.

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