Smoke strikes during a reported air strike by slit forces on the city of Hish in the Syrian province of Idlib on August 19 (Omar Hadj Kadur / AFP / Getty Images). in Syria on Monday, killing three civilians, according to a statement from the Turkish Defense Ministry.
The Syrian government stated that the convoy contained insurgent weapons without saying whether it was behind a strike carried out in Idlib province.
The attack threatens to launch a new round of violence between Syrian and Turkish governments and hinders fragile military cooperation between Moscow and Ankara in northern Syria, including agreements aimed at reducing violence there.
While Turkey was able to maintain observation posts in Idlib, its cooperation with Russia did not prevent the government of President Bashar al-Assad, an ally of Russia, from launching a comprehensive offensive to seize the province from Syrian rebel groups.
Turkey did not say who carried out the air strike, but at least partially blames Russia.
The Russian government was provided "preliminary information" about the route of the convoy, the ministry said. The attack "contradicts existing agreements, cooperation and dialogue with the Russian Federation," she added, calling for "all necessary measures to be taken to prevent the recurrence of such incidents."
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Turkey retains the right to respond to self-defense, the statement said. The convoy left for the Turkish observation post at 5:30 a.m. On Monday, it was attacked by air shortly before 9 a.m. In addition to the three victims, 12 civilians were injured.
The Syrian government stated in a statement that the convoy was loaded with "ammunition, weapons and supplies" destined for a Syrian jihadist group in Khan Sheikhun, the target of a government offensive and one of the last major rebel reductions, he called the convoy "a sharp violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic."
The Russian-backed Idlib offensive has killed hundreds of civilians since April and displaced hundreds of thousands of people, raising fears of another Syrian refugee move, according to United Nations officials. Turkish President Recep Erdogan, a longtime supporter of the Syrian opposition, seems powerless to dampen the offensive, despite his increasingly strong partnership with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
These ties have become even warmer in recent weeks as Turkey undertakes the delivery of a sophisticated Russian air defense system over the Trump administration's objections.
But in Idlib a ceasefire series collapsed, including a bargain. at the beginning of August. The Syrian government has accused the rebels of not complying with the terms of an agreement between Turkey and Russia aimed at de-escalating violence in the province. In recent days, thunderstorms have killed dozens of civilians across Idlib, according to activists.
Turkey has previously retaliated after accusing Syria of deadly attacks against Turkish military personnel in Idlib. In June, Turkey fired heavy weapons at Syrian-ruled territory after a Turkish soldier was killed in what Ankara said was an attack by a Syrian army.
Liz Slay contributed to this report by Beirut.
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