Turkey Retaliates Against Syrian Military Before Ceasefire Goes Into Effect

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Turkish soldiers fire a missile at a Syrian government position in the province of Idlib, Syria, February 14, 2020.
Turkish soldiers fire a missile at a Syrian government position in the province of Idlib, Syria, February 14, 2020.Credit: AP Photo/Ghaith Alsayed

Turkey staged an attack with a combat drone against Syrian government forces in Syria's Idlib on Thursday before a ceasefire went into effect, destroying military equipment and "neutralizing" soldiers, the Turkish Defense Ministry said.

It said the drone attack occurred around 4 P.M. (1300 GMT). Later in the day, Turkey and Russia agreed a ceasefire deal for northwest Syria's Idlib region, which went into effect at midnight.

The Turkish ministry said early on Friday the drone attack destroyed two pieces of artillery, two multiple-rocket launchers and "neutralized" 21 Syrian government soldiers, a term commonly used to mean killed.

It said the attack followed an attack on Turkish forces.

On Thursday, two Turkish soldiers were killed and three were wounded when Syrian government forces opened fire on them in Idlib, the Defense Ministry said earlier.

Turkey and Russia said in a joint statement on Thursday that both sides had agreed to establish a secure corridor along a key east-west highway in Syria's Idlib and hold joint patrols on it as of March 15 to ease tensions in the region.

In the joint statement read out by the Turkish and Russian foreign ministers, the two sides said the secure corridor would stretch 6 km (3.7 miles) to the north and 6 km to the south of the M4 highway. They said their defense ministers would agree on the parameters of the corridor within seven days.

The joint patrols will begin along the M4 from the Trumba settlement just west of the strategic town of Saraqeb, and run to the Ain al Havr settlement, the statement said.

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