Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Bloody Day for Turkish Army at Al-Bab Battlefront | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Smoke rises from the northern Syrian town of al-Bab, Syria February 2, 2017. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

Ankara, Beirut- The Turkish Army faced a bloody day Thursday in the countryside of Aleppo, in northern Syria, after a Russian warplane accidentally attacked Turkish soldiers while hitting ISIS positions around al-Bab city, killing three of them and injuring 11 others.

The Turkish Armed Forces witnessed other losses in its ranks after five soldiers were killed and 10 were injured in attacks launched by ISIS.

The Turkish soldiers are fighting in the area where Operation Euphrates Shield is active. Euphrates Shield, which involves Free Syrian Army fighters backed by Turkish forces, was launched last August to secure Turkey’s border with Syria against terrorists.

The Turkish Armed Forces said in a statement Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin called his Turkish counterpart President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and expressed condolences over the “tragic” incident.

“Both leaders affirmed their readiness to continue active efforts to advance the Astana [Kazakhstan peace talks] and Geneva processes on resolving the Syrian conflict,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

The accidental attack comes as Ankara is working with Moscow to prevent any confrontation between their forces in the battles raging around al-Bab, the stronghold of ISIS northeast of Aleppo.

Turkey backs the FSA while Russia supports the Syrian regime forces operating in the area.

At the political level, the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) will hold a three-day meeting in Riyadh on Friday to form a delegation that would participate in the Geneva talks next Feb. 20.

Sources assume the meeting would witness sharp discussions between political figures and military factions, in light of their current dispute on the number of representatives that should attend the Geneva talks and whether the opposition delegation should be political or military.

Commenting on the issue, Syrian Coalition Member Ahmad Ramadan told Asharq Al-Awsat: “There is a tendency to include one or two representatives from Cairo and Moscow in the opposition delegation that we hope it would be based on the tripartite principle.”

Ramadan said this principle stipulates that one third of the delegation be represented by the Coalition, the second part by members and factions of the Astana meeting, and the last part by the HNC.

Meanwhile, a political leader of the Fastaqim Kama Umirt rebel faction, Zakaria Malahifji, said opposition factions insist to name nine of their figures in the delegation attending the Geneva talks.