Two Turkish troops killed as state media intensifies attack on Russia

Two Turkish troops were reported killed on Wednesday in an air strike on Syria’s Idlib province, while the state-run Anadolu Agency heavily criticised the Syrian government’s strongest ally, Russia, for its role in the latest offensive on the rebel-held enclave.

Two soldiers were killed and another two wounded in an air strike on Turkish forces sent to ensure the ceasefire in Idlib, the Turkish Defence Ministry tweeted, saying the military responded to the attack.

“We wish God's mercy to our fallen martyrs, our grieving families, our noble nation supporting the TAF [Turkish Armed Forces], and a rapid recovery for our wounded personnel,” the ministry wrote.

Last week, two more soldiers were killed in an air strike targeting Turkish forces, wounding five.

With the latest attack, a total of 18 Turkish troops have been killed by Russia-backed Syrian army shelling in Idlib this month as forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad continue their assault to reclaim Idlib, the last rebel-held province in the country.

Russia has destroyed its credibility in Turkey's eyes by giving Assad forces its blessing for the Idlib offensive, security expert Sabir Askeroğlu wrote for state-run Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.

Although it gained great prestige by taking important steps in finding solutions for international crises through the Astana and Sochi processes, Russia lost this with its Idlib operations, Askeroğlu wrote.

Askeroğlu was referring to the talks between Assad-backers Russia and Iran, and rebel-supporter Turkey, in the Kazakh capital of Astana in 2017 to implement a ceasefire agreement in the eight-year-old conflict. The 2018 Sochi agreement between Russia and Turkey aimed to set up a "demilitarised zone" in Idlib.

Russia’s lost credibility “will negatively affect Russia’s West and Middle East policies on issues such as energy and Syria's development”, Askeroğlu wrote.

“Russia began to act as an actor who was trying to achieve its foreign policy goals by creating security crises, rather than an actor pursuing constructive policies in solving international security problems.”