Five Turkish soldiers and one civilian personnel were killed in Syria on Sunday, Turkey’s first fatalities as a result of direct confrontation between the countries since the start of Syria’s civil war in 2011.

Nine other troops were also wounded in northwest Syria’s Idlib province after they came under heavy artillery fire from the Syrian government Sunday, according to a Turkey defense department statement which added that the troops were reinforcements. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said up to 35 Syrian government soldiers had been killed Monday in response, and pledged further retaliation.

Erdogan said up to 40 Syrian targets were being considered as part of the operation, and warned Russia — the most powerful backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — to “not stand in our way.”


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