Turkey retaliates after attack kills troops in Idlib
Turkey's Defense Ministry said on March 19 that two of its soldiers were killed and another was injured in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib, in a rocket attack by "some radical groups".
In a written statement, the ministry said the radical groups in the de-escalation zone attacked Turkish soldiers, adding that its forces had opened fire on targets in the area.
"Targets determined in the region immediately were taken under fire and retaliated in proportion," the statement said.
Meanwhile, in a Twitter post, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar extended his condolences to the families of the martyrs and the Turkish nation.
Turkey, which backs rebels opposed to Syria's Bashar al-Assad, agreed to a ceasefire with Russia two weeks ago after months of fighting displaced nearly 1 million people in Idlib. Moscow supports the Syrian regime forces.
The two were the first Turkish soldiers killed in Idlib since the ceasefire was implemented.
Earlier on March 19, the defense ministry said one of its soldiers had died as a result of a heart attack in Idlib. The soldier was preparing for night duties on March 18 when he had the heart attack, it said.
Under the deal, all military activities were to end in Idlib with the establishment of a security corridor 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) to the north and south of the key M4 highway.
Turkish soldiers have been in the region to sustain the cease-fire and ensure the security of civilians.