ANKARA (Dispatches) – Two Turkish soldiers have been killed and two wounded in an attack on their armored vehicle in northern Syria, Turkey’s defense ministry said on Saturday.
The ministry said in a statement shared on Twitter that the attack was in the region where Turkey launched a cross-border invasion in 2016.
Media reports said the attack was in the al-Bab area.
The statement added that Turkish forces immediately launched retaliatory fire, saying, “After the attack on our vehicle, terrorist targets in the region were identified, immediately brought under fire and effectively hit. Our punitive shootings against terrorist positions continue.”
Turkey views the U.S.-backed People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria as a terrorist organization tied to the homegrown Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey since 1984.
Turkey has had a military presence in northern Syria, despite strong protest from Damascus, for the past years in a declared attempt to push Kurdish militants away from its borders.
On October 9, 2019, Turkish forces and Ankara-backed militants launched a cross-border invasion of northeastern Syria in yet another attack.
Two weeks after the invasion began, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a memorandum of understanding that asserted the YPG had to withdraw from the Turkish-controlled “safe zone” in northeastern Syria within 150 hours, after which Ankara and Moscow would run joint patrols around the area.
The patrols have come under repeated attacks by the militants ever since.