At least four Turkish soldiers were killed and nine others injured in intense shelling by Bashar al-Assad regime forces in northwestern Syria on Monday, the Turkish Defense Ministry said, Anadolu reports.
In a statement, the ministry said the soldiers — who were sent as reinforcements to the region for the purpose of preventing conflicts in Idlib de-escalation zone — were attacked by the regime forces, although their locations were previously coordinated.
One of the injured soldiers is in critical condition, the statement said, adding the Turkish Armed Forces responded to the attacks and destroyed the targets.
Located in the northwestern Syria, Idlib province is the stronghold of the opposition and anti-government armed groups since the outbreak of the civil war.
It is currently home to some four million civilians, including hundreds of thousands displaced in recent years by regime forces from throughout the war-weary country.
Turkey and Russia agreed in September 2018 to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone where acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.
The Syrian regime and its allies, however, have consistently broken the terms of the cease-fire, launching frequent attacks inside the zone, killing at least 1,300 civilians since the agreement.
In a fresh move, Turkey announced on Jan. 10 that a new cease-fire in Idlib would start just after midnight on Jan. 12. However, the regime and Iran-backed terrorist groups continued their ground attacks.
More than 1.3 million Syrians have moved near the Turkish border due to intense attacks since the beginning of 2019.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million others displaced, according to UN officials.