Late on January 16, three Turkish service members deployed in the northwestern Syrian region of Greater Idlib were hit by sniper fire.
A jihadi group calling itself “Saryat Ansar Abu Baker As-Siddiq” claimed responsibility for the attack. In a statement, the group said its fighters targeted the three service members, who were manning a post in the town of Batabo in northern Idlib, with sniper rifles equipped with thermal sights.
A source in the National Front for Liberation, Turkey’s main proxy in Greater Idlib, told the Enab Baladi news outlet that one of the injured Turkish service members is now in a critical condition. The Turkish Ministry of National Defense has not commented on the incident, yet.
Very little is known about Saryat Ansar Abu Baker As-Siddiq, which may be to be linked to al-Qaeda. On November 27 of 2020, the group carried out its first attack on Turkish forces in Greater Idlib. The group’s cells attacked a Turkish post in the town of Marj al-Zuhur in western Idlib with a booby-trapped motorcycle. No losses were reported back then.
The second attack took place on December 6. A Turkish service member was killed and another was injured after being shot by the group’s fighters near the town of Maataram in southern Idlib.
Some Syrian activists believe that the jihadi group is linked to al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, which is ruling over Greater Idlib with a direct support from Turkey. This is yet to be confirmed.
The Turkish military maintains more than 60 posts, camps and bases throughout Greater Idlib. Most of these positions are located in areas controlled by terrorist groups. Ankara has been doing very little at all to address the threat posed by these groups. Instead, Turkey prefers to call them a ‘moderate opposition’ and provides them with a direct support.
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