Russia Says Lives Lost in Joint Operation With Turkey in Syria

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(Bloomberg) -- Russian and Turkish military personnel died in Syria during joint action last month against militants in the northwestern province of Idlib, the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said.

After the two countries’ armed forces started an operation to bring the rebel-held zone under control in mid-January, militants responded with more than 1,000 attacks in the last two weeks of the month, the ministry said in a statement Thursday.

Hundreds of Syrian soldiers and civilians died and Russian and Turkish military specialists also “tragically lost their lives,” according to the statement, which didn’t give further details.

Russia disclosed the operation following a confrontation in Idlib this week between the Turkish army and Syrian government forces allied to Moscow. Turkey killed dozens of Syrian troops after seven Turkish servicemen died in a Syrian attack. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also issued an ultimatum for Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad to pull back his military by the end of February.

Turkey has military observers stationed in Idlib under a deal with Russia last year to establish a de-escalation zone in the region, which is largely controlled by militants allied to al-Qaeda as well as Turkish-backed rebels.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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