Turkey says air strike hit Syria convoy killing three

Damascus angered by Turkish army convoy heading for key Syria town

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, said airstrikes believed to be Russian struck near the highway and forced the almost 25-vehicle Turkish convoy to stop.

Turkey's defence ministry "strongly" condemned an air strike on its military convoy heading through Syria's Idlib province on Monday, which it said was a violation of agreements with Russian Federation.

The British-based war monitoring group said one fighter from a Turkey-backed faction accompanying the convoy was killed and others were injured.

Khan Sheikhoun is a stronghold of al-Qaida-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the most powerful group in the rebel-held areas. The town's fall would also cut the highway linking Idlib to northern parts of Hama province, home to one of Turkey's 12 observation posts on the edges of Idlib province. The convoy had set out for the Turkish observation post at 5:30 a.m. on Monday, and was attacked from the air shortly before 9 a.m.

The ministry didn't provide other details but "strongly condemned" the airstrikes, adding they were contrary to "existing agreements as well as our cooperation and dialogue with Russian Federation". It said Russian Federation had been told in advance about the convoy.

France called on Friday for an immediate end to the fighting and condemned air strikes on camps for the displaced. Fighters arrived to reinforce the frontline, he said, including some from the National Army, a Turkey-backed rebel force based further north near the border. The Sham Network, an activist collective, posted photos of the Turkish convoy.

The Syrian news agency SANA said it was carrying weapons and ammunition to "terrorist forces" in the town of Khan Sheikhoun.

The ministry said "this hostile behavior of the Turkish regime" wouldn't affect Syrian troops' push into Khan Sheikhoun.

The latest fighting, which broke out overnight Saturday to Sunday, has already killed at least 59 militants and allied rebels as well as 28 Syrian forces, he added.

Syria's conflict has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions at home and overseas since starting with the brutal repression of anti-regime protests in 2011.

Khan Sheikhun was hit by a chemical attack that killed more than 80 people in April 2017, attributed to the Syrian regime by the United Nations and worldwide experts.



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