Turkish lira nears lowest level since crisis after 33 soldiers die in Syria

Turkey’s lira slid against the dollar on Friday after air strikes by Syrian regime forces killed almost three dozen Turkish soldiers in the rebel stronghold of Idlib.

The lira dropped 0.7 percent to 6.25 per dollar at 10:09 a.m. local time in Istanbul, approaching the lowest levels in regular trading since the weeks following a currency crisis in August 2018. The main BIST-100 index of shares slumped 6.5 percent to 103,256 points.

At least 33 soldiers died and a further 36 were wounded in air strikes on Thursday, Turkish officials said. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has vowed to retaliate with a major offensive against President Bashar Assad’s army, raising concerns that Turkey and Russia, which supports Damascus, may get embroiled in direct fighting. Ankara has called on NATO for support.

The lira slumped by 28 percent against the dollar in 2018, sending economic activity into a tailspin. It fell a further 11 percent against the U.S. currency last year.

NATO willl hold an extraordinary meeting on Friday, acting on a Turkish request filed under Article 4 of the founding treaty, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Twitter.