TSK: Russia accidentally kills 3 Turkish soldiers in northern Syria

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Military honour guards carry the coffin of Mahmut Uslu, one of five Turkish soldiers killed on Ferbuary 7, in an attack by IS militants around the Syrian town al-Bab, as Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim (3rdR) attends the funeral ceremony in Ankara, on February 9, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN

According to a statement released by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) on Thursday, a Russian warplane accidentally hit a building occupied by Turkish soldiers in northern Syria, killing three soldiers and wounding 11 others.

After the incident, which took place at 8:40 a.m. Turkish time, Russian President Vladimir Putin called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to express his condolences, the same statement said.

The Russian warplane hit the soldiers as part of an operation against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) targets in the al-Bab region, where Turkey is also pursuing an operation against same terrorist organization.

The TSK also stated that both sides are investigating the incident.

On Dec. 1, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had said that Russia had nothing to do with an air attack on Turkish soldiers in Syria on Nov. 24.

“We, as Russia, had nothing to do with it. The airstrike on Nov. 24 in which Turkish soldiers were killed was carried out by neither Russia nor Syria,” said Lavrov during a joint press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.

Calling it a “mistake in translation,” Russia corrected earlier news stories that quoted Lavrov as saying Syria was responsible for the attack.

The Turkish military stated on Nov. 24 that the airstrike was carried out by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.

The airstrike that killed four Turkish soldiers near the Syrian city of al-Bab took place on the first anniversary of an incident in which Turkish F-16s shot down a Russian jet for violating Turkish airspace near the Syrian border, on Nov. 24, 2015.

The downing of the Russian jet led to a crisis in bilateral relations until Erdoğan apologized to Putin.

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