A Turkish official said Saturday that Turkey destroyed a chemical warfare facility in northwest Syria after dozens of its soldiers were killed by Syrian regime fire.
Turkish President Erdogan has just said Syria regime will ‘pay price’ over killing of Turkish troops. Erdogan also said he asked Russian President Putin to ‘get out of our way’ in Idlib.
The Turkish army destroyed overnight “a chemical warfare facility, located some 13 km south of Aleppo, along with a large number of other regime targets,” the senior official told reporters on condition of anonymity.
Turkey’s Defence Ministry also confirmed its armed forces had taken out 8 tanks, 4 armored combat vehicles, 5 howitzers and 2 multi-barrel rocket launchers belonging to Assad’s regime, along with 56 regime soldiers.
Read more: Turkey-Russia eyeball to eyeball
Turkey demands UN stop Syria regime’s ‘war crimes’
Turkey’s UN envoy Feridun Sinirlioglu asked the UN Security Council to stop the regime’s “war crimes” in Syria.
Speaking at an emergency meeting on Idlib, Sinirlioglu warned the regime not to make the mistake of targeting Turkish troops directly.
“Turkey doesn’t want war but Turkey will not hesitate to use force if and when its security is threatened,” he said, adding “Any provocation or harassment will be retaliated by all means.”
“It is time for this Council to say ‘enough is enough.’ The council has to stop regime’s ‘war crimes and its reckless behavior that pose threat to international peace and security,” said Sinirlioglu.
First Turkey shot down the Assad regime helicopters that dropped barrel bombs on civilians and tonight Turkey destroyed the barrel bomb factory in Southern Aleppo. Turkey is doing more for civilians and human rights in Syria in a few days than all other countries in 9 years.
— WorldOnAlert (@worldonalert) February 28, 2020
One Turkish soldier killed, two wounded in Idlib
One Turkish soldier was killed and two were wounded in shelling by Syrian regime forces in Syria’s northwest Idlib province, the Turkish Defence Ministry said, a day after 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in an attack in the region.
The ministry said on Twitter that Turkey “keeps on hitting regime targets” in the Idlib region in retaliation.
Turkey destroyed 387 troops, 31 tanks, 5 helicopters, 10 armored vehicles in the past 24 hours, the ministry said.
US to help Turkey in Syria via info-sharing, equipment
A senior State Department official who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity said that Washington is looking urgently to support Ankara with information-sharing and equipment.
“We’re working on ways to support the Turks, again this will not involve military moves by American units,” the official told reporters.
“As a NATO ally and a major foreign military sales partner, we have various information sharing and equipment relationships with the Turks. We’re looking at what we can do on an urgent basis right now to help them.”
The State Department official said the military power of Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad’s forces was very reliant on Russia, and that the authorities in Damascus would not have been able to push the Idlib offensive without support and approval from Moscow.
The Syrian regime has close coordination with the Russian government over air and missile strikes, the official added.
Following the State Department official, US top diplomat Mike Pompeo says Washington is engaging with Ankara and reviewing options to assist Turkey after the attack on Turkish troops in Syria.
“The United States condemns this attack in the strongest possible terms. The Assad Regime, Russia, Iran and Hizballah must cease their ongoing attacks in Idlib,” Pompeo added.
Pakistan stands with Turkey in this testing and critical time. May Allah AllMighty grant Jannah to all those Turk soldiers who embraced Shahadat in Syria.#Idlib#sehidimizvar pic.twitter.com/kLp8ilJopA
— Raja Muhamnad Bilal Khan (@rajabilal687) February 28, 2020
Turkey, Russia talk tensions in Syria
The presidents of Turkey and Russia spoke by phone to try to defuse tensions that rose significantly in Idlib.
In their phone call, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed implementing agreements in Idlib, the Kremlin said.
Turkey’s Communication Director, Fahrettin Altun, said both leaders had agreed to meet “as soon as possible.”
Trump, Merkel express solidarity with Turkey
US President Donald Trump “expressed his condolences and condemned” a bombardment by Russian-backed Syrian regime forces on Thursday that killed 33 Turkish soldiers, the White House said in a statement.
News Desk with inputs from TRT and AFP