Turkey and Syria clash as Idlib violence escalates

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Shelling by Syrian government forces early Monday killed five Turkish soldiers in Syria’s northwest Idlib province, according to Turkey’s Defense Ministry, which said its forces carried out retaliatory strikes on Syrian military positions.

The violent escalation between Turkey and Syria, which are neighbors but bitter adversaries, amounted to some of the most serious clashes between the two governments in years.

Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are pursuing a military offensive in Idlib, a province in northwestern Syria that hosts more than 3 million people, including residents and civilians displaced from other parts of the country. The Syrian offensive has killed hundreds of civilians and caused an exodus of displaced people from towns caught up in the fighting, according to humanitarian aid groups.

The latest violence appeared certain to further test Turkey’s complicated partnership with Russia. The relationship rests on strengthening commercial and military ties but has recently been strained as the two governments have backed opposing sides in conflicts throughout the Middle East, including in Syria and Libya. Russia is also Assad’s most important military ally and has backed Syria’s Idlib offensive as part of Moscow’s overarching goal of restoring all of Syria’s territory to government control.

[The Washington Post]

This entry was posted in by Grant Montgomery.

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