MOSCOW, February 28. /TASS/. Turkish aircraft, UAVs and artillery have hit over 200 targets of the Syrian army in Syria’s Idlib, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Friday.
"Over 200 targets and facilities of [the Syrian] regime came under intense strikes from combat planes, UAVs and artillery. Five helicopters, 23 tanks and ten armored fighting vehicles were destroyed," the minister was quoted by NTV television as saying. He also added that 23 pieces of artillery equipment and two air defense systems were destroyed.
"As many as 309 military of the Syrian army were neutralized," Hulusi Akar stated, adding that Turkey continued strikes in Idlib "in accordance with the worked out plan."
The minister reiterated that the decision on massive strikes on Syrian forces was made after the death of 33 Turkish military in Idlib. "This attack came despite the fact that the location of our troops [in Idlib] had been coordinated in advance with the Russian Federation. Strikes [on Turkish soldiers] continued despite our warnings. An ambulance car came under attack. Besides, I want to note that there were no armed groups whatsoever during the attack in the area where our force were located," he stressed.
A total of 33 Turkish troops who were taking part in terrorist units’ offensive on Syrian army positions were killed by artillery fire in the Idlib province in the early hours of Friday. Shortly after the incident, Ankara warned that it would consider Syrian troops enemy targets.
Certain media outlets in Turkey alleged in connection with the incident that Russia could have been involved in the strike on the soldiers. The Russian Defense Ministry categorically denied these speculations.
The Russian Aerospace Forces did not carry out airstrikes in the area close to the inhabited community of Behun where Turkish military had been killed, the Defense Ministry said on Friday.
"Aircraft of Russia’s Aerospace Forces were not used near the inhabited community of Behun," the statement reads.
The situation in Idlib deteriorated dramatically in early February after the Russian and Turkish taskforces had made another attempt to enforce a ceasefire. Terrorists only intensified their attacks instead. Last week, Erdogan said that Ankara was ready to use all its combat might in case of a military operation in Idlib. He also noted that another military campaign in Idlib was just a matter of time.