33 Turkish soldiers have been killed in Syria during an attack on Thursday. The attack was carried out by Syrian government forces in the northwestern Idlib province. Turkish forces had vowed that should the Syrian forces attack, Turkey would retaliate. Al Jazeera reported that, keeping their word, Turkish forces hit back with drone and artillery strikes on the Syrian army positions. Fighting was due to an offensive to seize the last Turkish-held area. CNN reported that a Turkish government representative claimed the retaliation was to “revenge our martyred heroic soldiers.”
Al Jazeera reported Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar’s comments that, “Despite warnings after the first strike, the Syrian regime, unfortunately, continued its attacks, even targeting ambulances.” Akar also stated that in retaliation, “Turkish forces destroyed five Syrian regime choppers, 23 tanks, 10 armoured vehicles, 23 howitzers, five ammunition trucks, a SA-17, a SA-22 air defence system as well as three ammunition depots.”
Concerns are spreading through the world amongst groups such as NATO, the European Union, and the United States government. The European Union High Representative for Security Policy, Josep Borrell Fontelles, stated in a tweet that there is “a risk of sliding in a major open international military confrontation.” A United States government spokesperson also said that they are “very concerned” and are in contact with the Turkish government about ending “this despicable offensive by the Assad regime, Russia and Iranian-backed forces.”
I agree that this violence is extreme, and the loss of life absolutely monumental. Conflicts like this are what is causing the displacement of millions of men, women and children, as well as the deaths of both soldiers and civilians. If the conflict continues to spiral into such violence due to offensives, but also retaliation, the international community will see millions more displaced and likely thousands more dead. International groups like NATO and the United Nations need to be prioritizing peace to resolve this conflict.
The devastation in this area has persisted for such an extended amount of time. The lives of the people impacted will be forever changed. Al Jazeera reported that nearly one million people have been displaced because of these violent attacks since December, more than half of whom are children. This is an astronomical amount of people to be displaced in just three months. The United Nations has reported “catastrophic” humanitarian consequences, with at least 134 civilians, including 44 children, killed in February alone. As well as this, essential schools and hospitals have been destroyed. The United Nations also reported that seven children were among 11 people killed when an airstrike hit a school in northern Idlib on Tuesday. These violent acts are becoming everyday news.
In conclusion, this violence is not uncommon between Turkey and Syrian forces, and in order for us to reach peace, we must hold both sides accountable for their acts of violence and bring them to an end.
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