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26 Syrian troops killed in Turkish strikes in Idlib

The Turkey-backed rebels have captured 14 villages and towns over the past four days, including the strategic city of Saraqeb.

SNS | New Delhi |

Turkish forces renewed drone attacks on Syrian forces’ positions in the northwestern province of Idlib that left 26 Syrian soldiers dead on Saturday, according to a war monitor.

The Turkish drones targeted the Syrian government forces and vehicles in Idlib a day after 48 Syrian soldiers were killed by similar attacks in the province.

On Thursday, the escalation in the Turkish attacks on Syrian forces come after an attack that killed 34 Turkish soldiers which was blamed on the Syrian government forces.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Turkish drones also destroyed 18 Syrian vehicles.

The Turkey-backed rebels have captured 14 villages and towns over the past four days, including the strategic city of Saraqeb.

The rebels captured Saraqeb from the Syrian forces, which launched a counter-offensive to retrieve the city without succeeding so far.

Last week, Turkey blamed the Syrian regime for the deaths of two of its soldiers in the rebel stronghold of Idlib, as tensions also escalated with Moscow which accused Ankara of “supporting terrorists”.

The situation in Idlib province in northwestern Syria has grown increasingly volatile in recent weeks, with a Syrian offensive triggering a humanitarian crisis as close to a million civilians fled the violence.

Last year, Turkey had killed 28 Kurdish militants in retaliation to an attack which left three Turkish soldiers dead.

The PKK, regarded as a terrorist group by Turkey, the US and the EU, has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.

Turkey has retaliated against the attacks under the rules of engagement and its right to legitimate self-defence, killing nearly 200 Assad military personnel since last week.

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, Ankara and Moscow reached an agreement in Sochi, Russia, to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.

Turkey launched a cross-border assault on Kurdish fighters after the US decided to withdraw troops from Syria, a move that was criticised by the Republicans, with some terming it a “betrayal” of the Kurds.