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Two Turkish soldiers are killed in new Syrian clash

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Offensive: Syrian army soldiers firing a weapon as they advance on the town of Kfar Nabl in Syria. Photo: Reuters TV

Offensive: Syrian army soldiers firing a weapon as they advance on the town of Kfar Nabl in Syria. Photo: Reuters TV

REUTERS

Offensive: Syrian army soldiers firing a weapon as they advance on the town of Kfar Nabl in Syria. Photo: Reuters TV

Turkey said that two more of its soldiers were killed in a Syrian government attack in north-western Syria, as steady clashes between the two national armies continued to rack up casualties.

Turkey has sent thousands of troops into the area to support Syrian insurgents holed up there, but hasn't been able to stop the Russian-backed Syrian government offensive to retake the Idlib province.

A Syrian opposition war monitor said nine Syrian soldiers were also killed in Turkish drone attacks in the north-western area.

The Turkish Defence Ministry's statement said that the latest Syrian attack on its troops also wounded six soldiers. It did not provide further details.

The assault came as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is scheduled to depart for Moscow where he says he aims to broker a ceasefire in Syria with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Turkey and Russia are the two main power brokers in Syria and each of them supports rival sides in the nine-year conflict.

"We expect to reach a shared view of the cause of the current crisis, its consequences and agree on a set of measures to overcome it," Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said about the upcoming meeting with the Turkish leader.

Russian officials have said they hold Turkey responsible for the collapse of a ceasefire agreement reached in Sochi, Russia, in 2018. They say Ankara has failed to honour the deal and rein in militants who continued attacking Syrian and Russian targets.

Earlier yesterday, Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Maj Gen Igor Konashenkov assailed Turkey for shielding "terrorists" in Idlib, a statement that reflected Moscow's forceful posture ahead of the Syria talks.

In a statement, he said that under the 2018 agreement with Russia, Turkey was obliged to ensure that militants in Idlib pull 15-20km away from the de-escalation zone along with their heavy weapons.

Instead of that, he argued, al-Qa'ida-linked militants "and other terrorist groups pushed moderate rebels north toward the border with Turkey".

He also assailed the West for turning a blind eye to Turkish military action in Syria "in violation of international law" and treating Turkish threats to destroy Syrian army units as a "legitimate self-defence".

Syrian opposition activists reported intense clashes near the government-held town of Saraqeb that sits on a major highway that links Syria's two largest cities, Damascus and Aleppo.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, said Turkish drone attacks near Saraqeb killed nine Syrian soldiers.

Irish Independent