Two Turkish soldiers were killed and four injured in a roadside explosion in rebel-held northwest Syria on Friday, according to a conflict monitor. Ankara has not immediately reported on the incident.
“Two Turkish soldiers were killed and four others were injured due to an IED [improvised explosive device] explosion which targeted a Turkish military convoy near Kafriya-Maarrat Masrin junction on Idlib-Bab al-Hawa road to the north of Idlib city,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported.
Turkish forces quickly brought in reinforcements to the area on the road linking the border town of Bab al-Hawa with Idlib city, according to North Press Agency.
Photos of the incident show a mangled armoured vehicle.
Turkish media and the country’s defence ministry have not reported the attack that was claimed by Ansar Abi Bakir al-Sadiq brigade, a Syrian militia group that has carried out several attacks against Turkish forces in Idlib. The group claimed that a number of soldiers were killed and injured in addition to the destruction of military vehicles.
The militia, an obscure group that announced itself a year ago when they claimed an attack on a Turkish military base in Idlib, has killed six Turkish soldiers in the rebel-held province in the past month, according to the Syrian Observatory.
The deadly blast on Friday took place less than 24 hours after a member of the Ansar Abi Bakir al-Sadiq brigade was arrested in Idlib, accused of planting explosives, according to the Syrian Observatory.
The brigade later denied any connection with the man who was arrested.
Turkey has not specifically accused the Ansar Abi Bakir al-Sadiq brigade of attacks against its forces.
Ankara backs anti-regime forces in Idlib province and it has carried out three military operations with Syrian militias in the north of the country. It is now threatening another offensive.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that their forces were targeted by Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which makes up most of the US-allied Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in Azaz, northwest Syria. Two Turkish policemen were killed in the missile attack, according to Turkey’s defense ministry.
Two unnamed Turkish officials told Reuters on Friday that Turkey is making preparations for a possible attack against Kurdish fighters in the Tal Rifaat area north of Aleppo if Ankara’s talks with Russia and US fail.