Syrian government forces attacked the Turkish military convoy in Idlib on February 28. As a result of the attack, 33 Turkish soldiers were killed and several dozen were injured.
Anadolu news agency, citing a statement by Hatay Rahmi Dogan, the governor of the Turkish province of Syria, said that a total of 36 Turkish soldiers were injured in the attack by Assad.
Thus a new aggravation of the situation in Syria began, which at this moment threatens with unpredictable consequences.
Turkey's first reaction
Turkey convened an emergency meeting of the Security Council, which lasted six hours, and later reacted with massive artillery and airstrike on all "identified military facilities" of Assad.
The BBC writes that the Turkish Minister of Defense and senior officers left to coordinate the operation on the border with Syria.
The first reaction of NATO and the United States
According to Anadolu agency citing NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, condemned the Assad regime for attacking the Turkish military and also called on Syrian government forces and Assad-supporting Russia to stop the attack.
The US State Department supported Turkey and expressed concern about the attack on Turkish troops in Idlib. And he demanded to stop the assault of Assad and Russia, as well as the forces supported by Iran, The New York Times wrote.
What kind of offensive are we talking about?
Idlib is the only region in Syria that remains under the control of the opposition. Assad, with the support of Russia, wants to “fix it,” and the opposition, with the support of Turkey, is resisting this.
BBC specifies that there are about 3.5 million refugees from other regions of Syria in Idlib who do not want to live under the rule of the Assad regime in Damascus.
The situation in the region escalated after Turkey demanded Assad to withdraw his forces from Turkish observation posts located in the province. And Assad, at the request of Turkey, was supposed to do this before the end of February, otherwise, Turkey threatened to solve the situation on its own, "pushing out" the Syrian government forces from there.
What Russia says
The day before, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated that Russian aviation “helps” Assad’s forces in Idlib.
And on Thursday, the Russian Defense Ministry accused Turkey of violating the agreement on the de-escalation of the situation in Idlib.
Ankara allegedly "continues supporting actions of illegal armed groups with artillery fire and the use of strike and reconnaissance unmanned aircraft.
"Russia's First Deputy Chair of the Federation Council Committee on Foreign Affairs Vladimir Dzhabarov called on Turkey "to stop covering up terrorists in Idlib."
"The stronghold of terrorists in Syria is concentrated in Idlib, and this is largely due to the fact that Turkey has not yet fulfilled and is not fulfilling its obligations to combat terrorism. It turns out that they are covering [the terrorists]," RIA Novosti reported citing Dzhabarov.
The Russian Defense Ministry announced that the Turkish troops attacked in Idlib were in the ranks of the advancing militants, TASS reports. The ministry emphasized that the Russian Air Force aviation "did not mount a strike in the area of Behun."
What kind of de-escalation agreement that Turkey allegedly violated is meant?
Apparently, we are talking about the so-called “Sochi agreement” signed in autumn of 2018.
Medusa, citing those agreements, the truce in the Idlib enclave was active only on the following conditions.
Russia and Iran, as allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, have pledged to prevent Syrian forces from advancing on the enclave in Idlib.
Turkey, as an ally of an enclave based militant groups opposing Assad, promised to withdraw them 20 km from the front line and separate the "moderate opposition" from terrorists close to al-Qaeda.
In the demarcation zone, Turkish, Russian, and Iranian observation posts were created — each for several dozen military men.
In addition, the opposition in the enclave was supposed to ensure unimpeded movement (including for government-owned vehicles) along the two main routes in Idlib: the M5 Damascus-Aleppo highway and the M4 Latakia-Aleppo highway.
Mass media specify that the agreements were repeatedly violated by all the parties.
Turkey's Further actions
In the beginning, there were rumors that martial law was introduced in Turkey, but currently, this is not so.
In addition, other rumors spoke of Turkey letting Syrian refugees into Europe (before that, the Turks had kept the influx of refugees).
Omer Celik, the spokesman Turkey's governing AK Party, said Ankara decided to consider forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as "enemy targets".
Turkey's governing AK Party views the shelling and killing of the military as an "attack against NATO." Turkey, as known, is a member of NATO and may request Alliance intervention under Article 5 of the Charter.
Article 5 of the NATO Charter provides that an armed attack on one or more of its member countries will be considered an attack on the Alliance as a whole.