An attack by Syrian government forces killed five Turkish soldiers in northwest Syria on Monday, threatening further escalation in the region after another deadly artillery strike last week.
Turkish defence officials said five other troops were wounded in “intense” shelling in Taftanaz in the northwestern province of Idlib, the last rebel-held stronghold in Syria.
Turkey immediately responded and “neutralised” more than 100 enemy targets, the defence ministry said in a statement.
“A heinous attack occurred today in Idlib, where our military serves, pursuant to our rights under international law, to end the violence and mitigate the humanitarian crisis,” Fahrettin Altun, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s communications director, wrote on Twitter.
“Turkey retaliated against the attack to destroy all enemy targets and avenging our fallen troops. The war criminal, who ordered today’s heinous attack, targeted the entire international community, not just Turkey.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu commented that Ankara had “responded to the cowards”, adding: “Our glorious army will continue to do what is necessary.”
Last week, eight Turkish military personnel were killed in a similar attack on Saraqeb, south of Taftanaz. The Turkish response at the time left at least 13 Syrian soldiers dead.