The airstrike was carried out when the Syrian Army was repelling a large-scale offensive by terrorist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an offshoot of Al-Qaeda in Syria, inside the Idlib ‘de-escalation zone’, the Russian military announced on Friday, according to RT.
"Turkish servicemen inside the combat units of terrorist groups came under fire from the Syrian military on February 27 near the town of Behun," it added.
The defense ministry stated that the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria was in constant contact with Ankara, “regularly” requesting and receiving information on the whereabouts of Turkish troops. And, according to the data submitted by Turkey, there were no Turkish soldiers near Behun when the Syrian Army was fighting terrorists there.
At least 33 Turkish servicemen have been killed in an airstrike in Syria’s Idlib province, while an unspecified number of soldiers were injured. Turkish officials attributed the strike to the Syrian military. More Turkish servicemen have been injured in the airstrike, but their number is so far unclear.
It is not the first time that Russia has accused Ankara of failing to properly notify it and the Syrian government about the movement of Turkish military inside the Idlib “de-escalation zone”. Earlier this month, six Turkish soldiers were killed when their convoy came under fire west of Saraqib after they moved there “without informing the Russian side”, Moscow announced at the time.
Syria’s Northwestern Idlib province is the last-remaining stronghold of anti-government militants, some of which are militants groups and some are Turkish-backed militants. A de-escalation zone was set up there by Turkey and Russia in 2018. Since then, Ankara has accused the Syrian Army of violating the ceasefire and attacking civilians. Moscow, meanwhile, has said that Turkey has failed on its promise to clear the area of fighters.