Within hours of a meeting between Turkish and Russian diplomats in Ankara ending which saw the Turkish delegation urge its counterparts to immediately establish a cease-fire in Idlib, there are new reports of that dozens of Turkish soldiers have been killed by a new wave of Russian airstrikes.
Reporters on the ground in Syria say that between 32 and 37 Turkish soldiers were killed. Turkish state sources have confirmed at least 22 dead with scores wounded.
TFSA says 32 confirmed so far https://t.co/WdqnsLJgWE— Lindsey Snell (@LindseySnell) February 27, 2020
Journalist Lindsey Snell has cited Turkish Free Syrian Army (TFSA) sources which confirm 32 Turkish national troop deaths so far in the strike.
Amid the breaking reports The Washington Post's Liz Sly says Turkish President Erdogan has called an emergency security meeting of his military leaders over the alleged Russian attack.
Despite widespread initial reports that it was a Russian airstrike, Turkish state media has thus far used the interesting wording of "Assad regime forces" conducting the strike and not Russia.
Reports coming in of a large number of Turkish casualties in a Russian or Syrian government air strike in Idlib. Erdogan is hosting an emergency security meeting. Turkey has dug itself into quite a hole in Syria. How does it get itself out.— Liz Sly (@LizSly) February 27, 2020
This after heavy clashes today in Idlib towns have been ongoing related to the Syrian Army's major offensive in the south of the province.
Regional reporter Emma Beals writes:
Initial reports say a large number of Turkish soldiers killed today in Idlib. Lots of activity now at Reyhanli hospital in Turkey. Erdogan chairing an emergency meeting right now, with CHP party chairing their own tonight as well.
"If all confirmed, could signal major escalation," she added of the breaking story.
"Updated reports indicate a two-story building used by Turkey's military as a command headquarters was leveled in a targeted Russian airstrike," Middle East Institute's Charles Lister writes
"Requests by Ankara to fly in helicopters to evacuate casualties were rejected by Hmeymin Airbase; casualties were driven by land," he added.
Unconfirmed footage showing Russian strike on Turkish forces https://t.co/xxVKSKkah0— Danny Makki (@Dannymakkisyria) February 27, 2020
And immediately on the heels of today's dramatic escalation, Sen. Lindsey Graham is urging Trump to impose a No Fly Zone over Idlib.
Graham calling for Pentagon to establish a no-fly zone in Russian-controlled airspace in Idlib likely a difficult sell for the Trump admin. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Thurs that US has not had "discussion about reengaging in the civil war"https://t.co/aDyLwPQWAS https://t.co/WeJR6o9SrH— Jack Detsch (@JackDetsch_ALM) February 27, 2020
Turkey appears to have cut off Twitter access to the entire country.
⚠️ Confirmed: Twitter has become unavailable across #Turkey as of 11:30 p.m. local time for users of national provider Turk Telekom following alleged attack on Turkish troops in #Idlib; other social media currently unaffected; developing situation 📉 pic.twitter.com/Tu3h68Gfii— NetBlocks.org (@netblocks) February 27, 2020