Jumat, 28 Februari 2020

Turkey-Syria tensions escalate after troops killed: Live updates - Al Jazeera English

Dozens of Turkish troops have been killed in Syrian government air raids, marking a dramatic escalation in the conflict between Ankara and Moscow-backed forces in northwestern Syria.

The 33 deaths followed an attack in Idlib late on Thursday and comes as Syrian government forces, backed by Russian air power, are attempting to seize the last remaining territory held by Syrian opposition forces who are backed by Turkey.


The toll is the deadliest suffered by the Turkish army since it intervened in Syria in 2016 and is raising fears of a direct confrontation between Turkey and Russia on the battlefield. 

Here's all the latest updates: 

Friday, February 28 

13:30 GMT - Bulgaria to send 1,000 troops to Turkey border

Bulgaria is ready to deploy 1,000 soldiers to its border with Turkey to prevent the entry of migrants into its territory, according to the country's defence minister Krasimir Karakachanov.

This comes after Turkey's foreign ministry warned migrants and asylum seekers in the country are moving towards Europe because of the situation in Idlib.

Karakachanov, in a Facebook post, says the Bulgarian army "will take all necessary measures to protect" its borders.

Greece is also boosting patrols on its border with Turkey. 

13:00 GMT - Putin, Erdogan 'voice concern' over Idlib 

A statement from the Kremlin says the Russian and Turkish presidents, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, voiced "concern about the escalation of tension in Idlib" following the deaths of Turkish soldiers. 

The statement provides additional details of the phone call between the two leaders earlier today. 

The conversation took place on Turkey's initiative, the Kremlin says, adding: "Both sides reaffirmed that it was necessary to adopt additional measures in order to normalise the situation in northwestern Syria."

12:20 GMT -  White Helmet rescuer describes 'disastrous situation in Idlib'

Abdulla Hussein, a rescue worker with the Syrian White Helmets, says Syrian government air raids on Idlib's second largest city - Maaret al-Numan - are so severe his colleagues and medical relief groups are not able to access the area. 

"The situation is Idlib is disastrous in every meaning of the word. The people there are running out of options. The Syrian government shelling, backed by Russian warplanes, has targeted even the main roads that the civilians are using to flee different towns and villages," he tells Al Jazeera in Reyhanli, southern Turkey. 

"The last two days,  with the advancement of Syrian forces towards Mount Zawiya area [highland area that includes Maaret al-Numan], civilians there have left their villages and towns. Our teams and medical relief groups can't even access the area due to the severity of the aerial bombardment there."

12:00 GMT - NATO calls on Russia, Syria to 'stop indiscriminate attacks'

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO's secretary-general, is calling on Russia and Syria to stop the offensive in Idlib and to "fully engage in UN-led efforts for a peaceful political solution" to the conflict. . 

"We call on Russia and the Syria regime to stop the attacks, to stop the indiscriminate air attacks ... we also call on Russia and Syria to fully respect the international law," Stoltenberg tells reporters in Brussels, the capital of Belgium.

"This dangerous situation must be de-escalated."

11:30 GMT - Erdogan, Putin discuss Idlib in telephone call

The Turkish and Russian presidents discussed the situation in Idlib in a phone call, Interfax news agency says, quoting the Russian foreign minister. 

"The conversation was detailed and focused on the need to fulfill the original agreements pertaining to the Idlib de-escalation area," says Sergei Lavrov, adding that the two leaders are also looking into the possibility of a meeting in the near future. 

33 Turkish soldiers killed in Syrian air raid in Idlib (5:31)

11:00 GMT - EU warns of 'major international' conflict in Syria

Josep Borrell, the European Union's foreign policy chief, called for an urgent end to the escalation in northwestern Syria, warning the tensions could slide into a "major open international military confrontation".

"It is also causing unbearable humanitarian suffering and putting civilians in danger," he says in a Twitter post. "EU calls on all sides dor rapid de-escalation and  regrets all loss of life."   

Hello, and welcome to Al Jazeera's live coverage of the mounting tensions between Turkey and Syria in northwestern Idlib. I'm Zaheena Rasheed and I'm covering the latest developments from Doha, Qatar, and my colleague Linah Alsaafin is in Reyhanli, southern Turkey. 

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2020-02-28 13:05:00Z

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