Anger on both sides as Turkish army convoy in key Syria town hit by Syrian strike
DAMASCUS: Damascus on Monday condemned the deployment of a Turkish military convoy toward a key town in northwestern Syria where regime forces are waging fierce battles with militants and rebels.
“Turkish vehicles loaded with munitions... are heading toward Khan Sheikhun to help the terrorists... which confirms once again the support provided by the Turkish regime to terrorist groups,” a foreign ministry source quoted by the state news agency SANA said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, reported Syrian and Russian airstrikes aimed at hindering the convoy’s advance through Idlib province.
The strikes brought strong condemnation from Turkey's defense ministry, which it said were in violation of agreements it has with Russia.
"Despite repeated warnings we made to the authorities of the Russian Federation, the military operations by the regime forces continue in Idlib region in violation of the existing memorandums and agreements with the Russian Federation," the ministry said in a statement.
Turkey, which backs rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad, blamed "regime forces" for the attack, which it said had killed three civilians and wounded 12.
Since late April, Syria and Russia have upped their bombardment of the Idlib region of some three million people, killing more than 860 civilians.
The Idlib region is supposed to be protected from a massive regime offensive by a buffer zone deal signed between Russia and Turkey in September.
But it was never fully implemented, as militants refused to withdraw from the planned demilitarized zone.
On Sunday pro-regime forces entered Khan Sheikhun in Idlib province for the first time since they lost control of it in 2014.
They are battling to seize a key highway connecting government-held Damascus with the northern city of Aleppo, which the regime retook from rebels in December 2016.
Dozens from both sides have been killed in the latest fighting.
Militant group Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate, controls most of Idlib province as well as parts of the neighboring provinces of Hama, Aleppo and Latakia.