Turkey claims 50 Syrian soldiers killed in retaliatory attacks

Posted Feb 20, 2020 by Ken Hanly
Clashes in Syria's Idlib Province have increased Thursday as Turkish forces attacked Syrian Army forces. The Turks claim to have killed over 50 Syrian soldiers. Turkish officials said their attacks were in retaliation for Syria's killing of two soldiers.
Syrian aid workers called urgently for a ceasefire and international help for nearly a million peopl...
Syrian aid workers called urgently for a ceasefire and international help for nearly a million people fleeing the Syrian regime's onslaught in the country's northwestern Idlib province
Earlier in February 13 Turkish soldiers were killed in Syrian attacks. Erdogan had said at the time that Turkish forces would strike anywhere in Syria should another soldier be hurt. Fahtrettin Altun the Turkish Communications Director said the Turkish soldiers were in Idlib to "establish peace and manage humanitarian aid operations".
The Turkish government claimed that five tanks, two armoured personnel carriers, two armoured trucks and one howitzer were also destroyed in the retaliatory attacks.
Turkish-backed rebels involved in the attacks
Syria requested help and Russia ultimately sent in warplanes that stopped the fights. Russia warned Turkey to cease its actions. Turkish-backed rebels were involved in the attacks on the Syrians and were supported by Turkish artillery. The main group of Jihadists in control in Idlib Governorate is Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), who are linked to Al-Qaeda.
The Russian counter attack
The Russian Defense Ministry announced that its air forces launched strikes to repel the attack by Turkey-backed rebels to counter the offensive of the Syrians and retaliate for the killing of Turkish soldiers. They rebels sought to break through Syria's defensive lines. The rebels launched a massive offensive southeast of Idlib city according to the Russian Reconciliation Center in Libya using many armoured vehicles. Turkish artillery helped the rebels break through Syrian defenses in some areas.
The Russian Defense Ministry says its Air Force launched strikes to repel a militant offensive against the Syrian Army in Idlib, which had sought to breach the government forces’ defensive lines with Turkey’s backing. However, the Russian bombing destroyed considerable Turkish equipment and when Russia contacted Ankara the artillery barrage stopped.
The clashes may not be over
Russia describes the situation as a worst case scenario and demanded that Turkey cease backing terrorist groups in Syria. However, Turkey has demanded that Syrian forces withdraw from Idlib. Erdogan said on TV last Saturday: "Until the regime’s [Syrian government] forces pull out beyond the borders [of the Idlib de-escalation zone] outlined in the Sochi agreement, the problem will not be solved. If they do not leave, we will do this work without waiting until the end of February." In effect Turkey is demanding that Syria allow Jihadist rebels to rule Idlib Governorate.
However, Assad forces have been launching attacks which have regained considerable territory both inside and outside Idlib. The Syrian government now controls the key M5 highway linking Damascus and Aleppo.