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Russia confirms Syria regime conducted airstrike on Turkish soldiers

Soldiers carry the coffin of Lieutenant Zafer Er at Ahmet, transferring it from Gaziantep to Ankara for his funeral. A Syrian regime airstrike killed 3 Turkish soldiers on November 24, 2016 [Kerem Kocalar / Anadolu Agency]
Soldiers carry the coffin of Lieutenant Zafer Er at Ahmet, transferring it from Gaziantep to Ankara for his funeral. A Syrian regime airstrike killed 3 Turkish soldiers on November 24, 2016 [Kerem Kocalar / Anadolu Agency]

After the death of three Turkish soldiers involved in Turkey’s “Euphrates Shield” operation in Syria in an airstrike, Russia has cooperated with Turkey and conducted an investigation that lays blame for the attack on the Assad regime, media reports have said.

Turkish newspaper Hurriyet said that the attack initially seemed intent on spoiling Turkish-Russian relations that have recently warmed since Turkey shot down a Russian bomber last year. However, Russia was highly cooperative and assured Turkey that it did not carry out the attack, maintaining the recently patched ties between the two powers.

When Turkey told Russia that the plane which carried out the strike set off from a Syrian airport under Russian control, Russia asked for more time to investigate the issue before conducting an investigation that confirmed that a Syrian Air Force L-39 Albatros light-attack warplane carried out the attack.

The regime airstrike on the Turkish soldiers came one year after Turkey downed a Russian fighter jet that brought relations between the two Black Sea powers to the verge of collapse. According to reports, the regime airstrike caused the death of four Turkish soldiers and wounded ten others.

Immediately after the strike, two Turkish F-16 jets set off from Incirlik Airbase and arrived at the scene 13 minutes later to find that the aircraft which carried out the strike had departed.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim held emergency phone calls with Defence Minister Fikri Isik and the Chief of General Staff General Hulusi Akar before speaking to the media. Yildirim vowed that Turkey would avenge the deaths of its “heroic sons.”

He also told journalists in Ankara that “there are different parties who do not agree with our [Euphrates Shield] operation against Daesh. There will be revenge for this attack.”

Al-Araby Al-Jadeed said that this attack bore clear messages to Turkey, which supports the Syrian opposition, and that the airstrike was a warning for it to not attempt to expand its control to reach near Aleppo and other parts where Syrian regime does not want Turkey.

Turkey is now fighting to push Daesh out of Al-Bab, which is very close to Aleppo’s besieged and opposition-held eastern districts.

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