A day after 34 Turkish soldiers were killed in Syrian airstrikes, near the north-western Syrian town of Idlib, Turkey said it launched retaliatory attacks. Syria's chemical weapons facilities are claimed to be one of the targets destroyed by the Turkish forces.
Syria's chemical weapons depots destroyed: Turkey
In a press briefing on Saturday, February 29, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkish forces had destroyed Syrian regime's '7 chemical weapons depots, 94 tanks, 37 howitzers, 27 military vehicles', Daily Sabah reported.
The statement came after a Turkish official claimed that Turkey destroyed a chemical warfare facility in northwest Syria, Turkish media reported. The Turkish army destroyed overnight "a chemical warfare facility, located some 13 km south of Aleppo, along with a large number of other regime targets," the senior official told reporters on condition of anonymity. Turkish media also shared a video of the alleged attack.
However, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on sources inside the war-torn country, said that Turkey instead hit a military airport in eastern Aleppo, where there are no chemical weapons, Al Arabiya reported.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, about 50 Syrian regime soldiers have been killed near Idlib, in the Turkish ground and air bombardment, which continued throughout Friday. Strategically important M5 highway which connects the country's north to its south was also attacked.
Renewed tensions in the middle east
The fresh spate of attacks was carried out after 34 Turkish soldiers were killed on Thursday, in Syrian airstrikes, near Idlib. The Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad is backed by Russia, thus renewing tensions between Russia and Turkey. On Friday, the Turkish President talked to his Russian counterpart, in an attempt to defuse tensions. Turkey also said that it will no longer guard its northern borders, thus allowing thousands of Syrian refugees to enter Europe.
Idlib town, situated in north-west Syria is the only rebel strong-hold not controlled by the Syrian government. Various rebel groups active in the region are backed by Turkey, which houses millions of Syrian refugees, displaced due to the Syrian civil war.