Turkey’s military says a soldier has been killed and five others have been injured in an attack by unidentified militants as the troops were setting up a military post in Syria’s northwestern Province of Idlib.
Turkey’s armed forces said in a statement on Tuesday that the militants had launched a rocket and mortar attack on the troops on Monday.
According to the statement, the Turkish forces conducted retaliatory strikes on the militants.
The army did not specify who the militants behind the assault were.
It also said that one civilian member of the Turkish contingent was injured in the attack.
A Turkish convoy entered Idlib on Monday to set up a new observation point as part of the Astana agreement with Iran and Russia on the creation of “deescalation zones.”
The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said the new Turkish observation post was near the village of El-Ais.
Under the deal between Ankara, Moscow, and Tehran — aimed at reducing violence — Turkey reportedly agreed to set up a dozen observation posts in Idlib and neighboring provinces.
In mid-September last year, Russia, Iran, and Turkey, which together act as guarantor states in peace talks for Syria, agreed on the details of four “deescalation zones” in the Arab country, including in Idlib, during peace talks in the Kazakh capital of Astana.
Idlib, which borders Turkey and is largely under the control of al-Nusra Front militants, is one of the last main strongholds of Takfiri militants opposed to President Bashar al-Assad.
Separately, Turkey has been waging “Operation Olive Branch” against Syria’s Afrin region since January 20 in a bid to eliminate the US-backed Kurdish forces from the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara views as a terror organization and the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The latter has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.
The official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported on Monday that 142 civilians have been killed and 345 others wounded since the start of the operation in Afrin.
According to the report, the Turkish forces have also inflicted significant damage on the region’s infrastructure, residential buildings, and mosques in the Syrian region.
The Turkish Afrin operations are not authorized by Damascus.