Turkey's vice president has vowed revenge on Syrian forces after 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in an airstrike in the rebel-held Idlib province. Ankara previously said it had launched air and artillery strikes in retaliation.
Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay unleashed a scathing verbal attack on Syrian President Bashar Assad and the forces loyal to Damascus shortly after a 6-hour marathon emergency security meeting chaired by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan concluded in Ankara in the early hours of Friday.
Oktay minced no words, referring to the Syrian leader as “the head of a terror state” who “would go down in history as a war criminal” in a written statement reported by Turkey’s Anadolu News Agency, adding that Damascus would “pay [a] heavy price” for what he called a “treacherous attack on Turkish troops.”Also on rt.com 33 Turkish soldiers confirmed killed in Idlib airstrike as Erdogan chairs emergency meeting on Syria
Earlier on Thursday, Erdogan’s press secretary Fahrettin Altun said Turkey has been retaliating to the attack on its soldiers by launching air and artillery strikes against Syrian positions. The media chief went so far as to compare the situation in Idlib with a genocide, the likes of “what happened in Rwanda and Bosnia.”
Footage purportedly capturing recent air raids by the Turkish military on Syrian positions has circulated in Turkish media alongside reports that some 1,709 targets were destroyed within the last 17 days of Ankara’s onslaught in Idlib.
Ankara in recent weeks has sent thousands of its troops and military hardware to rebel-held areas in the province – the last stronghold of Islamist militants and extremists in the war-ravaged country – as Damascus reinvigorated its push to liberate cities and towns in southern Idlib in a bid to reclaim a strategic highway linking Aleppo to the major port and capital of the western Latakia province.
Despite suffering casualties, Turkey previously said it would not withdraw from the province until the Syrian government pulls the plug on its offensive. Damascus has refused to do, arguing that its armed forces are targeting terrorists there.
Moscow, meanwhile, has accused Ankara of propping the militants with artillery fire and drone strikes in violation of the terms of the de-escalation agreement struck within the Astana peace process.
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