Russian airstrikes have accidentally killed three Turkish soldiers and injured 11 others in northern Syria, Russia’s Defence Ministry confirmed.
A Russian warplane hit a building housing Turkish soldiers in Al-Bab at 8:40 am local time, the Turkish General Staff said in a statement. The soldiers were taken to hospital.
Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed condolences over the accidental loss of life in the airstrike, in a phone call with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov said Thursday.
“President Putin discussed… his recent phone conversation with Turkish President Erdogan. Among other things, he said that he expressed condolences to his colleague over the incident that took place early Thursday morning, when Turkish servicemen were killed as a result of incoordination in Russian Air Force airstrikes against terrorists during the joint operation to liberate al-Bab,” Peskov said.
The Turkish military is satisfied with the actions and statements made by the Russian authorities in the aftermath of the incident, TASS reported, citing a source in the Turkish General Staff.
The head of the Russian General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, also talked on the phone with his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar, expressing his condolences over the incident.
The warplanes were targeting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) sites in the al-Bab area, Gerasimov said in a statement.
Gerasimov and Akar agreed to increase cooperation and information exchange between the Russian and Turkish forces on the ground, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The Turkish General Staff says that Moscow and Ankara will carry out a joint investigation into the airstrike.
On November 2015, the Turkish Air Force shot down a Russian Su-24 bomber, which was taking part in Moscow’s anti-terrorist operation in Syria.
The two Russian pilots were forced to eject into terrorist-held areas, with the captain being killed by militant fire as he was descending.
Russia imposed a wave of economic sanctions against Turkey in response to the incident, with the countries requiring over a year to mend relations.