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Monday 10 February 2020

Five Turkish Soldiers Killed in Syria

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ANKARA / AMMAN (Reuters) — Syrian government forces killed five Turkish soldiers in north-western Syria on Monday, Turkey’s defence ministry said, after Turkey deployed thousands of troops there to stem a Syrian government offensive.

The attack, on a newly established Turkish military base in Taftanaz in Idlib province, happened a week after eight Turkish military personnel were killed by Syrian army bombardment.

The rapid advance by Syrian government forces in Idlib, the last major enclave of insurgents opposed to President Bashar al-Assad, has driven nearly 700,000 people from their homes toward the closed-off Turkish border. Turkey, which already hosts 3.6 mln Syrian refugees, says it cannot absorb any more and is ready for military action to halt the Syrian government advances. It has poured 5,000 troops and convoys of military vehicles across the border, carrying tanks, armoured personnel carriers and radar equipment to bolster its existing military positions.

The defence ministry said Turkish forces retaliated on Monday for the attack in Taftanaz, which also wounded five soldiers who were flown by helicopter back to Turkey.

A Turkey-backed Syrian rebel commander said the insurgents had also launched a military operation near the town of Saraqeb, south of Taftanaz, with Turkish artillery support.

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