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Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Turkey says another soldier killed by Syrian shelling

AP , Tuesday 3 Mar 2020
Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces deploy on the eastern neighbourhood of Saraqeb, east of Idlib in northeastern Syria, on March 2, 2020 (Photo: AFP)
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Syrian government shelling killed one Turkish soldier and wounded another in northwest Syria, Turkey's Defense Ministry announced, days after serious clashes between the two armies appeared to signal a new stage in the nine-year war.

The soldier's death, announced late Monday, raises to 55 the number of Turkish losses this month in direct clashes between Turkish troops and Russian-backed Syrian forces. The death toll includes 33 Turkish soldiers killed Thursday in a single airstrike.

The Syrian government's monthslong offensive into northwest Syria's Idlib province, the last rebel-held area in the country, has sparked one of the war's worst humanitarian crises. Almost one million Syrian civilians have fled north toward the sealed Turkish border.

Turkey has sent thousands of troops into Idlib to support the opposition fighters holed up there, but hasn't been able to roll back the government's advance.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he hopes to broker a cease-fire in Syria later this week when he meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

Tensions in Idlib rose following the Syrian strike that killed the 33 Turkish soldiers in Idlib. Turkey responded with drone attacks and shelling that killed more than 90 Syrian troops and allied gunmen. The Turkish air force also shot down two Syrian warplanes after Syria's air defenses shot down one of its drones. The Syrian pilots ejected safely.

Outraged by the assault against its forces in Syria, Turkey has opened its western borders for thousands of migrants and refugees wanting to cross into Europe. It is Ankara's latest bid to pressure the European Union to help handle the fallout from the disastrous Syrian war.

Thousands of migrants have since tried to cross into Greece by land and sea. Greek authorities have made clear their side of the border is shut and have turned to arresting dozens of those who managed to find a way through the frontier.

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