In the wake of a regime attack on Turkish troops in Syria, Turkey’s president Monday reiterated his vow to ensure safety of Turkish people and Syrians in Idlib.
“Turkey has retaliated against this attack as it did previously, and it continues the retaliation,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters at Istanbul Airport before departing for Ukraine on an official visit.
At least four Turkish soldiers were martyred and nine others injured in an intense shelling by forces of Bashar al-Assad regime in Idlib, northwestern Syria early Monday.
Erdogan said: “Some 40 positions have been targeted in an ongoing operation,” Erdogan said, adding that almost 30-35 regime troops killed according to the initial reports.
Erdogan said Turkey continues shelling positions in Idlib identified by the National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) with howitzers and F-16 fighter jets.
“We are determined to continue our operations to ensure the safety of our country, our nation and our brothers in Idlib,” Erdogan stressed.
“Those who test Turkey's determination with such vile attacks will understand that they made a big mistake,” he added.
He underlined that Turkey’s target is not Russia but the Syrian regime and warned Russia “not to stand on Turkey’s way.”
“We cannot remain silent against these [attacks on Turkish troops] while we have martyrs. [Those who are responsible] will pay the price,” he said.
Erdogan later left Turkey for Ukraine, where he is set to attend the eight meeting of Turkey-Ukraine High-Level Strategic Council.
As part of his visit, Turkish leader will also meet his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky.
Accompanying Erdogan are a delegation of top Turkish officials, including Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul, Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan, Communications Director Fahrettin Altun, and Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin.
*Erdogan Cagatay Zontur contributed to this story.
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