Erdogan-led emergency meeting ends after 33 Turkish soldiers killed in Idlib
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during the funeral ceremony for Turkish soldier Musa Ozalkan on Jan. 23, 2018 at Ahmet Hamdi Akseki Mosque in Ankara. (ADEM ALTAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Date: 2020-02-28 08:46
33 Turkish soldiers were killed and 32 others were injured in a Russia-backed Assad regime airstrike in northwestern Syria's Idlib Thursday (February 27), confirmed the Governor of Hatay Rahmi Dogan.
Gov. Dogan initially confirmed the death toll. Some 32 more wounded Turkish soldiers are in stable condition and are being treated in hospitals, he added.
With the attack, the growing alarm in Ankara over the recent escalation of tensions reached a tipping point.
Late Thursday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan convened an emergency national security meeting on tensions in Idlib.
Security sources told Daily Sabah that all ministers and senior officials, including the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) chief Hakan Fidan, were present in the meeting that started at 9:30 p.m. and lasted nearly six hours.
"We are hitting, with land and air backup, all known regime targets, and will continue to do so. We'll continue our operations in Syria until the hands that attacked our flag is dealt with," Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said.
In retaliation, Turkish artillery pounded Assad regime targets along the frontline in Idlib. Turkey also carried out missile attacks on targets in Syria's central Hama, northwestern towns of Nubl and Zahraa, as well as Latakia.
All elements of the Assad regime have now become targets. Turkey now recognizes all Assad regime elements as hostile targets," the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) spokesman Omer Celik said.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu held a phone call with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg following the attack. A statement released later on Friday said Stoltenberg condemns attacks carried out by the Assad regime and its backer Russia in Idlib, calling for an immediate halt.
Presidential Spokesman İbrahim Kalin also held a phone call with US National Security Adviser Robert C. O’Brien.
Meanwhile, the Directorate of Communications released a statement on the Turkish offensive against Syrian regime forces.
It said Turkish forces have neutralized at least 1,709 Assad regime militiamen, as well as 55 tanks, three helicopters, 18 armored vehicles, 29 howitzers, 21 military vehicles, six ammunition depots, seven mortars, and four Soviet-made DShK heavy machine guns in the last 17 days of operations in southern Idlib.
Based on DS