Twenty-six Syrian regime forces killed in Turkish drone attack: Rights group

As many as 26 Syrian regime soldiers were killed in a drone strike on Saturday the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported.

According to SOHR the Syrian regime and militia loyal to it had lost a total of 74 soldiers in the past 48 hours.

The drone strike targeted government forces in al-Zorba, Saraqib and the countryside of Ma’rat al-Numan. There was no immediate comment from either Damascus or the Turkish Defense Ministry on the drone strike.

SOHR also reported that Russian jets carried out airstrikes, hitting targets near Kafr Nooran and Al-Atareb in the western countryside of Aleppo province, while further strikes were carried out in the countryside near the town of Saraqeb in Idlib.

It also reported that Turkish planes had targeted regime forces in the Saraqeb area and the southern countryside of Idlib. It did not, however, have any reports on casualties from those raids.

Turkish artillery reportedly launched a fresh bombardment near Saraqeb and Jabal Al-Zawiya.

The SOHR further reported that even more Turkish troops were pouring into Idlib, saying that more than 3,000 military vehicles and 8,000Turkish soldiers had now entered Idlib since the beginning of February.

The drone strike comes after 34 Turkish soldiers were killed in Idlib on Thursday, representing the biggest loss of life for the Turkish military in years.

Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday he had asked President Vladimir Putin for Russian forces to stand aside in Syria and let Turkey fight Syrian government forces alone.

Speaking in Istanbul, Erdogan said he had told Putin in a phone call to stand aside and let Turkey “do what is necessary” with the Syrian government. He said Turkey did not intend to leave Syria right now.

“We went there because we were invited by the people of Syria. We don’t intend to leave before the people of Syria say,” Erdogan added.

Three rounds of talks between Russia and Turkey failed to yield a ceasefire, but the Kremlin said on Saturday that Putin and Erdogan would discuss all aspects of the Syrian conflict in planned talks in Moscow.

It set no date but officials on both sides say the talks will be on March 5 or 6.

Syria’s permanent representative to the UN, Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari told an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Friday that Syria fights terrorism on its territories and will continue to confront the Turkish aggression.

“Idlib is Syrian territory. It is not Turkish or NATO territory. Nor is it in Estonia, Belgium France, Germany, or California. Syria is fighting terrorism on its own soil and is determined to defeat Turkey’s aggression in support of terrorists by any means,” he said.

Sources: SOHR, Reuters, SANA, IPA

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