Turkish Vice President has vowed revenge on the Syrian forces after 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in an airstrike in the rebel-held Idlib province. Ankara said previously it had launched air and artillery strikes in retaliation.
Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay unleashed a scathing verbal attack on Syrian President Bashar Assad and the forces loyal to Damascus shortly after a 6-hour marathon emergency security meeting chaired by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan concluded in Ankara in the early hours of Friday.
Okay minced no words referring to the Syrian leader as “the head of a terror state” who “would go down in history as a war criminal” in a written statement reported by Turkey’s Anadolu News Agency, adding that Damascus would “pay heavy price” for what he called a “treacherous attack on Turkish troops.”
Earlier on Thursday, Erdogan’s press secretary Fahrettin Altun that Turkey has been retaliating to the attack on its soldiers by conducting air and artillery strikes against Syrian positions. Altun went as far as to compare the situation in Idlib with a genocide, the likes of “what happened in Rwanda and Bosnia.”
İdlib'deki hava operasyonları ve rejime ait hedeflerin vurulmasına ait yeni görüntüler
— ANADOLU AJANSI (@anadoluajansi) February 28, 2020
Footage purportedly capturing recent air raids by the Turkish military on the Syrian positions has been circulated by Turkish media alongside reports that some 1709 targets were destroyed within the last 17 days of Ankara’s onslaught in Idlib.
In the recent weeks Ankara have sent thousands of its troops and hardware to the rebel-held areas in the province, the last stronghold of Islamist militants and extremists in the war-ravaged country, as Damascus reinvigorated its push to liberate cities and towns in the south of the province in a bid to reclaim a strategic highway linking Aleppo to the major port and capital of the western Latakia province.
Despite suffering casualties, Turkey said previously it would not withdraw from the province until the Syrian government pulls the plug on its offensive, with Damascus refuses to do, arguing that its armed forces are targeting terrorists there.
Moscow, meanwhile, has accused Ankara of propping the militants with artillery fire and drone strikes in violation of the terms of the de-escalation agreement struck within the Astana peace process.