Turkish artillery returns fire ‘in kind’ into Syria

Tukish soldiers block a highway which leads to the Greece boarder near Edirne, Turkey, September 18, 2015. (Reuters)

Turkish artillery has returned fire "in kind" into Syria, military sources told Reuters on Tuesday, marking the fourth straight day of shelling by the Turkish military.

Turkey on Monday warned Kurdish militia fighters in northern Syria they would face the "harshest reaction" if they tried to capture a town near the Turkish border.

Turkey also accused Russia of an “obvious war crime” after missile attacks in northern Syria killed scores of people, and warned Kurdish militia fighters there they would face the “harshest reaction” if they tried to capture a town near the Turkish border.

An offensive supported by Russian bombing and Iranian-backed Shiite militias has brought the Syrian army to within 25 km of Turkey’s frontier. The Kurdish YPG militia - which Turkey regards as a hostile insurgent force - has exploited the situation, seizing ground from Syrian rebels to extend its presence along the border.

Almost 50 civilians were killed when missiles hit at least five medical facilities and two schools in rebel-held areas of Syria on Monday, according to the United Nations, which called the attacks a blatant violation of international law.

At least 14 were killed in the northern town of Azaz, the last rebel stronghold before the border with Turkey, when missiles hit a children’s hospital and a school sheltering refugees, a medic and two residents said. Missiles also hit a hospital in the town of Marat Numan in the province of Idlib, south of Aleppo.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said a Russian missile had hit the buildings and that many civilians including children had been killed. Turkey’s foreign ministry accused Russia of carrying out an “obvious war crime.”

But Russian Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova said Russian air strikes were targeting Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) infrastructure and she had no reason to believe that Russian planes had bombed civilian sites in Idlib.

“We are confident that (there is) no way could it be done by our defense forces. This contradicts our ideology,” she said in Geneva. Syria’s ambassador to Russia said U.S. war planes were responsible.

White House national security adviser Susan Rice on Monday condemned in the “strongest terms” the intensified bombing of northern Syria, adding that it ran counter to commitments to reduce hostilities made by major powers last week in Munich.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:47 - GMT 06:47
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