On February 27th, as a result of its support of “moderate opposition” in Idlib, Turkey lost 33 of its soldiers.
It appears to be paying the price of supporting al-Qaeda-linked terrorists such as Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and doing it with hypocrisy even entirely acting as it is not a fact that is widely known.
Regarding what transpired, the Russian Ministry of Defense released the following statement:
“On February 27, 2020, formations of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham terrorist group in the Idlib de-escalation zone attempted to conduct a large-scale offensive operation on a broad front against positions of the Syrian government forces.
To eliminate any security threats resulting from retaliatory fire by Syrian government forces originating from the Turkish observation posts and units deployed in the Idlib de-escalation zone, the Russian Reconciliation Center is in constant contact with the Turkish Idlib Coordination Center.
Over the past 24 hours, representatives of the Russian Reconciliation Center have constantly requested and confirmed from Turkish colleagues the coordinates of the location of all units of the Turkish armed forces located near terrorist combat zones.
At the same time, on February 27th, in the area of the settlement of Behun, Turkish soldiers who were in the battle formations of terrorist groups fell under the shelling of the Syrian troops.
At the same time, according to the coordinates transmitted by the Turkish side to the Russian Reconciliation Center, there were no and should not be any units of the Turkish armed forces in the area of Behun.
Immediately after receiving information about the injured Turkish troops by the Russian side, comprehensive measures were taken for a complete ceasefire by the Syrian forces, and the safe evacuation of dead and wounded Turkish troops to Turkey was ensured.
Aviation of the Russian Aerospace Forces in the area of Behun was not used.”
Thus, the Russian side attempted to preserve the lives of Turkish troops, even though it turned out that they were fighting on behalf of the militants in the area, and Ankara denying that it was so.
Regardless, strikes will continue on the al-Qaeda-affiliated militants, regardless of Turkish presence among their ranks.
To attempt and hide what happened in Idlib and the casualties that it suffered, Turkey blocked Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Messenger via many internet service providers in the country.
⚠️ Update: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Messenger are now blocked via multiple internet providers in #Turkey. Real-time network data indicate SNI filtering in effect by operators; incident ongoing – see live report ?
— NetBlocks.org (@netblocks) February 27, 2020
The Turkish Armed Forces, until March 13th, declared areas of the country directly adjacent to the conflict zone in the north-north of Syria as zones of active patrolling of their combat aircraft.
At some echelons of these regions, a complete ban on flights was introduced for aircraft that were not involved in combating against the Syrian government forces.
In a statement, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed “grave concern” of an escalation of violence and called for an immediate ceasefire. He said “the risk of even greater escalation grows by the hour” without urgent action.
Through his spokesman, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg issued a statement condemning the “indiscriminate” air strikes by the Syrian regime and Russian forces. He urged de-escalation by all parties of “this dangerous situation”.
Completely disregarding the fact that the Syrian Arab Army and its Russian support were fighting against known terrorists, and Turkish soldiers were in their ranks.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a two-hour emergency security meeting in Ankara that was attended by ministers and military officials.
“Head of the terror state Assad, who will go down in history as a war criminal, and regime elements will pay a heavy price for this treacherous attack,” Fuat Oktay, Turkey’s vice-president said.
Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Turkish commanders directed operations in Syria at the Turkish border, state-owned Anadolu news agency said.
Turkey called a NATO meeting on February 28th, which will discuss what happened. Erdogan’s spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, who plays a senior role in foreign affairs, also spoke about the situation to US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien.
“We stand by our NATO ally Turkey and continue to call for an immediate end to this despicable offensive by the Assad regime, Russia, and Iranian-backed forces,” the US State Department said in a statement.
“All known” Syrian government targets are under fire by Turkish air and land support units, Turkey’s communications director Fahrettin Altun said, adding it will “respond in kind” to the deadly air strike.
Russia, meanwhile, deployed two warships equipped with Kalibr cruise missiles to the Mediterranean Sea towards the Syrian coast, the Interfax news agency cited Russia’s Black Sea Fleet as saying.
If is even potentially possible that the Turkish parliament could vote to declare war on Syria, but with the success it is having so far, it is unlikely that much would change, apart from it receiving even more casualties than it has now.
It is unknown how much support it would receive from its NATO allies, it will become clearer later on February 28th, and then its further actions would become apparent.
Furthermore, it is unlikely that it will receive any direct military support, rather it is highly likely that some words of encouragement would come, condemning the “Assad regime” and its Russian supporters, and that would be it.
Turkey would continue claiming it is in its right to invade another country, embed its soldiers in the ranks of terrorists and they cry foul when they’re being killed, which is the natural outcome of these said militants losing the fight on, more or less, all fronts.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- Updated: Turkey Says 33 Of Its Soldiers Were Killed In Syrian Airstrike On Greater Idlib (Videos)
- Israeli Helicopters Attack Military Positions In Southern Syria