BREAKING: Syrian shelling kills 5 Turkish soldiers in Idlib

At least five Turkish soldiers were killed on Monday as the Syrian forces shelled an air base taken by the Turkish forces in the northwestern province of Idlib, activists said.

The Syrian shelling targeted Taftanaz Air Base in Idlib countryside as Turkey was amassing forces and started shelling Syrian forces as part of Ankara’s plan to launch a wide-scale offensive to hinder the progress of the Syrian army in Idlib.

Over the past two months, the Syrian army launched a wide-scale offensive in the southern and eastern countryside of Idlib as well as in the southern countryside of Aleppo Province in a bid to open the Damascus-Aleppo strategic highway that connects the country’s south with its north.

Having kept capturing areas, the army is now only two km from securing the strategic highway.

In the process, the army besieged some of the Turkish observation points that were set up in rebel-held areas to observe a short-lived de-escalation zone deal agreed upon between Russia and Turkey.

Activists said the Turkey-backed rebels, mostly fighters with the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, received an order to halt their military offensive against the Syrian army until the ongoing Russian-Turkish talks in Ankara end on Monday.