Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a meeting in Ankara, Turkey, February 10, 2020. (Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool)
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday vowed that Syria would pay a “heavy price” for any attack on Turkish troops, a day after five soldiers were killed in regime shelling in the Idlib region.
“The more they attack on our soldiers, they will pay a very, very heavy price,” Erdogan told a televised ceremony in Ankara.
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Turkey responded on Monday with artillery fire on Syrian positions and said it had “neutralized” 101 Syrian regime soldiers after the killing of five Turks in Idlib — the last major rebel bastion.
The exchange was the second such clash in a week, after eight Turks were killed in regime fire last week, which again prompted a military response from Turkey.
“The regime … got what it deserved in Idlib,” Erdogan said. “But it is not enough.”
He said he would reveal Wednesday the steps to be taken after the flare up in the northwestern province of Idlib.
Turkey has beefed up in recent days its observation posts in Idlib, which were set up under a 2018 deal with Russia — the key backer of President Bashar al-Assad.
The regime supported by Moscow has pursued an assault against Idlib, home to an estimated three million, for more than two months.