“Units of the Turkish military conducted movement within the Idlib de-escalation zone during the nighttime from February 2 to February 3 without informing the Russian side and came under fire by the Syrian government troops, which were targeting terrorists west of Saraqib,” the Russian center for Syrian reconciliation said on Monday.
The statement stressed that there are established lines of communications between Russian forces in Syria and the Turkish command. It added that Turkish aircraft did not enter the Syrian airspace after the incident, contrary to some reports in the Turkish media, which said Ankara ordered airstrikes at Syrian positions in retaliation for the shelling.
The Turkish Defense Ministry earlier reported that four Turkish soldiers were killed and nine others injured in the shelling incident.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded quickly, promising to continue retaliating heavily to any attacks against Turkish forces in Syria’s Idlib Province.
Idlib governorate is a designated “de-escalation zone” under agreements between Russia, Turkey and Iran. Ankara is expected to use its influence among anti-government fighters controlling it to prevent hostilities with Damascus troops, eventually leading to a peaceful resolution. In practice, some jihadists in Idlib continue attacks at government-held parts of Syria and on several occasions launched drone attacks on the Russian air base in Latakia, ensuring continued fighting