Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Monday 4 December 2023 Dublin: 4°C
Burhan Ozbilici/AP Photo Mourners at the funeral of a soldier killed by IS militants on Tuesday
Friendly fire

Putin apologises after Russian air strike accidentally kills three Turkish soldiers

Russian and Turkish authorities appear keen to move on after today’s airstrike.

THREE TURKISH SOLDIERS were “accidentally” killed and 11 were wounded today when a Russian air strike targeting jihadists in Syria hit a building where the troops were deployed, the Turkish army said.

With Moscow and Ankara cooperating ever more closely on Syria, President Vladimir Putin quickly reached out to Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to express condolences and promise better future coordination.

The Russian plane had been seeking to hit targets of Islamic State jihadists but “by accident three of our heroic soldiers were martyred when a building was bombed where our units were,” the Turkish army said in a statement.

It said that of the 11 injured, one was badly wounded.

Putin contacted Erdogan to express his “sadness and condolences,” it added.

“Russian officials have said that the incident was an accident,” the army said, adding an investigation is being carried out by both sides.

In Moscow, the Kremlin said Putin had offered Erdogan his condolences and that the leaders had “agreed to enhance military coordination” in the fight against IS in Syria.

It said the incident took place in the flashpoint IS-held town of Al-Bab where both countries have been conducting airstrikes.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Russian strike took place this morning due to a “lack of agreement of coordinates during strikes by the Russian air force.”

Fight for Al-Bab

Both sides appeared keen to move on from the incident, as was the case when an off-duty Turkish policeman shot dead Russia’s ambassador to Ankara Andrei Karlov on 19 December in a crime that shocked both countries.

Then, Ankara allowed Russian investigators to work in Turkey and also gave the slain ambassador the honour of a ceremony on the tarmac of Ankara airport before his corpse was airlifted back to Russia.

The Russian defence ministry said Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov and Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar had in a call “agreed on closer coordination of joint actions”.

Turkey had on 24 August began an unprecedented campaign inside Syria against IS and Kurdish militia which initially made rapid progress but has become mired in a deadly fight for the IS held town of Al-Bab since December.

The incident came with new CIA chief Mike Pompeo in Ankara for talks with Turkish officials on issues including Syria, on his first foreign visit since the inauguration of US President Donald Trump.

The fight for Al-Bab has been by far the bloodiest yet of Turkey’s incursion inside Syria but the authorities have vowed to press on until its capture despite a mounting casualty toll.

Before today’s casualties were reported, the Dogan news agency said 66 Turkish soldiers have now been killed in the Syria operation since it began in August, mostly in attacks by IS.

© – AFP 2017

Read: Turkish police detain 400 suspected members of Islamic State

Read: Theresa May signs €117m fighter jet deal with Turkey

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.