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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Syria Fighter Jets Target Turkish Convoy in Syrian Territory

By Edward Yeranian August 19, 2019

Syrian fighter jets targeted at least one Turkish military convoy that had crossed into Syria Monday, causing a number of casualties.

Turkey strongly condemned the action and said the attack killed at least three civilians and wounded 12 others.

"Despite repeated warnings we made to the authorities of the Russian Federation, the military operations by the regime forces continue in Idlib region in violation of the existing memorandums and agreements with the Russian Federation," a Turkish foreign ministry statement said.

Amateur video showed Syrian government warplanes targeting the Turkish convoy as it was heading toward the northern Idlib town of Saraqeb.

Syria's foreign ministry protested the convoy's "illegal" entry into the country. Syrian state TVindicated that the convoys were carrying military equipment for what it called "terrorist groups" fighting the Syrian government around the strategic town of Khan Sheikhoun.

Turkey supports various rebel factions in the north of Syria, while Russia has been officially backing the government of President Bashar al-Assad since intervening on the ground in 2015.

Joshua Landis, who heads the Department of International and Area Studies at the University of Oklahoma, tells VOA that Khan Sheikhoun is "extremely important to the Syrian government" because "it sits astride the main highway linking Damascus to the north of the country." He says it is vital to the reconstruction of the country and viability of Syria's northern capital, Aleppo.

Syrian government analyst Samir Abou Saleh said on state TV that Turkey had "reneged on an agreement with Russia in the port city of Sochi to reopen the highways leading to Aleppo by October of last year." VOA could not independently confirm the claim.

The French news agency reported Monday that the Jeish al Ezza rebel militia was involved in heavy fighting against government troops in the area surrounding Khan Sheikhoun. It also reported that other militia factions close to Turkey were trying to enter the area to fend off the government advance.

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