In an airstrike on Syria's Idlib province on February 26, two soldiers of Turkish Armed Forces were killed and two of their gunmen were left injured. According to the Turkish Defense Ministry, their country's troops also responded to the attack and “neutralised” 114 members of the Syrian forces. This attack came just days after two other Turkish soldiers were killed in a separate airstrike targetting their checkpoints and wounded five. The state agency reportedly criticised the Syrian government and its ally, Russia for the latest offensive on the rebel-held enclave.
Ateşkesi sağlamak üzere İdlib bölgesinde bulunan unsurlarımıza düzenlenen hava saldırısı sonucu 2 kahraman silah arkadaşımız şehit olmuş, 2 kahraman silah arkadaşımız da yaralanmıştır. Bölgedeki Rejim hedefleri derhal ateş altına alınmış; alınmaya devam edilmektedir.— T.C. Millî Savunma Bakanlığı (@tcsavunma) February 26, 2020
Turkish foreign ministry also said in a statement, “According to the information received from various sources in the region; It was learned that 1 air defence missile system, 1 ZU-23 anti-aircraft, 1 anti-tank, 3 tanks, 1 ammunition vehicle, 2 construction machines were destroyed, 3 tanks were seized and 114 Regime elements were neutralized.”
According to international media reports, with the latest attack, at least 18 Turkish troops have been killed by the Russia-backed Syrian army attacks in Idlib in February. The tensions in Northern Syria started escalating earlier this month when the shelling by Syrian government forces killed eight Turkish nationals on its observation posts in Idlib. That attack was reportedly followed by Turkish attack on Syria which according to Erdogan killed 76 Syrian officials. It was few days after the attacks that the Turkish army reportedly started deploying in the disputed region as convoys of at least 150 trucks with Turkey's special forces were spotted at the Turkey-Syria border.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had also threatened to launch a military offensive in the disputed Idlib province if the regime forces do not withdraw behind the positions of the Turkish military. According to international media reports, while talking to his parliamentary group in Ankara, Erdogan warned the Syrian government that it was just a matter of time that the Turkish troops would launch an operation on Idlib.
Moreover, according to the Turkish President, a military offensive in Idlib is imminent and the officials are now making final warnings. While supporting several rebel groups in the region, Turkey also wants to put an end to the refugee influx in the country. However, Russia reacted to Erdogan's warning and Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov reportedly called it the worst scenario if the operation was meant to be against the Syrian forces.