Turkey warned Russia not to get involved as it retaliated against Syrian government forces for killing four of its soldiers in northwest Syria’s Idlib.
Four Turkish soldiers were killed and nine were wounded, one of them seriously, in shelling by Syrian regime forces in northwest Syria’s Idlib region on Monday, the Turkish defense ministry said, with a war monitor reporting six Syrian soldiers dead in a Turkish counterattack.
“I want to especially tell the Russian authorities that our interlocutor here is not you but the (Syrian) regime, and do not stand in our way,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters.
The Russian position
Russia said the Turkish military came under fire from Syrian regime forces because they did not warn Moscow about their operations in Idlib, according to TASS News Agency, which cited the Russian Defense Ministry.
The spokesman of the Turkish ruling party, the Justice and Development party, refuted the Russian claims and said Ankara informed Moscow of developments in Syria’s Idlib.
“The statement that Russia was not informed is not correct. Turkey is providing regular and instant information to Russia. It also informed them in this latest event. It is not true to say information was not shared. The mechanisms in place were utilized as always,” Omer Celik said on Twitter.
Turkey’s communication director said if Russia is unable to control the Syrian regime from targeting Turkey, Ankara will not hesitate to take action.
“The Assad regime’s attack on our forces is the latest example of its cowardly actions in northern Syria,” Fahrettin Altun said on Twitter.
Syrian regime forces as Turkish “targets”
Turkey will view Syrian regime forces as “targets” around Turkish observation posts in Syria’s northwest Idlib, a spokesman for President Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party said on Monday.
“The (Syrian) regime is from now on a target for us in the region after this attack. We expect Russia not to shield the regime or protect them because after the clear attack on our armed forces, regime forces around our posts are targets,” Omer Celik said on broadcaster CNN Turk.
He added the Syrian government was “acting like a terrorist organization” and that talks would be held with Russian officials, who support the Syrian government, on the situation in the Idlib region.