Turkey and Syria could be headed for war as their armies increasingly clash on front lines in southern Idlib, also amid a heavy aerial bombardment by Syrian and Russian jets of al-Qaeda held Khan Sheikhoun.
On Monday a Turkish convoy came under attack by Syrian airstrikes while traversing a highway headed toward Khan Sheikhoun. Damascus has accused Turkey of seeking to aid terrorists in the besieged town, which had been site of prior chemical attack claims issued by anti-Assad fighters, and fired "warning shots" on the approaching armored convoy, killing and injuring some among the pro-Turkish force.
An AFP correspondent observed around 50 Turkish armed vehicles, including at least five tanks, traveling through Idlib which the Syrian government has condemned as an illegal breach of its sovereign borders.
The convoy is said to be laden with ammunition resupplies for local "rebels" battling the Syrian Army in southern Idlib province. Ankara's position has been to claim massive Syrian-Russian airstrikes are a violation of prior agreements between Russia, Turkey, and Syria.
At least one fighter from a Turkish-backed faction was reported killed in the airstrikes on the convoy, which halted its movement south, along with many injured. Some reports said there were multiple among the dead.
Turkey's defense ministry "strongly" condemned the incident, with statements out of Damascus saying Turkey is seeking to resupply terrorist groups on Syrian soil.
Another video showing the military convoy of #Turkish occupiers being bombed by Su-22M4s of #Syria Arab Air Force near #MaarTahroma, #Idlib outskirt. Multiple Turkish soldiers are reported to be killed & some of their BMC Kirpi MRAPs and M-60 tanks are damaged or destroyed. pic.twitter.com/5x5uN9u17o— Babak Taghvaee (@BabakTaghvaee) August 19, 2019
"Despite repeated warnings we made to the authorities of the Russian Federation, the military operations by the regime forces continue in Idlib region in violation of the existing memorandums and agreements with the Russian Federation," Turkey's defense ministry said in a statement.
Syrian state news agency SANA, citing a Foreign Ministry source, responded that Turkey's invading force would not impede "the determination of the Syrian Arab Army to keep hunting the remnants of terrorists."
Meanwhile, it must be remembered that Khan Sheikhoun was site of a previously claimed chemical attack incident in April 2017, which the White House used as a pretext for bombing Syria, followed by a more devastating attack on Damascus the year following.
Though Syria has largely fallen out of mainstream media headlines, events rapidly unfolding in Idlib will soon likely take center stage, especially should another claimed chemical attack incident play out, and given it is entirely in the besieged insurgents' interest for some kind of "mass casualty" event involving sarin or another chemical to gain the immediate attention of the West.