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28 Feb, 2020 03:05

Idlib attack that killed Turkish soldiers was ‘also against NATO’, consultations to start tomorrow – Erdogan’s party spokesman

Idlib attack that killed Turkish soldiers was ‘also against NATO’, consultations to start tomorrow – Erdogan’s party spokesman

The spokesman for Turkey’s ruling AK party has labelled the Syrian airstrike that allegedly claimed the lives of dozens of Turkish soldiers in rebel-held Idlib an attack on NATO, calling for the US-led alliance to intervene.

“We call on NATO to [start] consultations. This is not [an attack] on Turkey only, it is an attack on the international community. A common reaction is needed. The attack was also against NATO,” AKP spokesman Omer Celik told Turkish media on Thursday.

At least 33 Turkish soldiers are said to have been killed in Idlib, the last militant stronghold in Syria, in an airstrike Ankara blamed on Damascus. In the wake of initial reports that dozens of Turkish servicemen perished in the raid, Turkish President Receep Erdogan held a 6-hour marathon meeting that concluded early Friday

Also on rt.com Article 5 or ‘Oh my gosh’? What will US do after Turkish troops die in Syrian strike

The military bloc itself, while pledging support to its “ally Turkey,” has been wary of making any promises. Apparently shocked by reports of the Turkish casualties, US envoy to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchinson reportedly exclaimed “Oh my gosh” in response to the news when speaking to media late Thursday, but dodged the question of whether the US-led alliance would consider invoking Article 5 – which would pave the way for a collective military response to an armed attack on one of its members.

However, she did not miss out on a chance to call on Turkey to tear up its deal to buy the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system, while also taking a jab at Moscow: “They see what Russia is, they see what they are doing now” – despite the fact that Ankara has not blamed Moscow for the attack.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg was not willing to go beyond the usual Moscow-bashing rhetoric on Syria, accusing the Syrian “regime” and its Russian “backer” of “indiscriminate strikes,” and calling on them to “back UN efforts for a peaceful solution.”

Moscow has yet to comment on the spate of fresh accusations by the US-led alliance – which parroted the ones made earlier by the US State Department – but insisted earlier that Ankara is to blame for the recent flare-up in Idlib as Turkey continues to back Islamist militants with artillery fire and drone strikes, all in violation of a de-escalation agreement reached within the Astana peace process.

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