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Turkish, Russian forces come under attack during joint patrol in Syria’s Idlib

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Turkish soldiers keep watch as military vehicles of a joint Russian-Turkish patrol pass through the town of Ariha on the M4 highway in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib on May 7, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

Russia’s Defense Ministry says Russian and Turkish military forces have been attacked during a joint patrol on the strategic M4 highway in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib, but there were no deaths or injuries among the troops.

“Today, during the joint patrol on the road connecting the town of Ariha to Urum al-Jawz village, militants carried out a terrorist attempt aimed at undermining security along the M4 motorway. As a result of the explosion, a Russian personnel carrier was slightly damaged,” Russia’s TASS news agency quoted the ministry’s Spokesman Igor Konashenkov as saying on Tuesday.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar announced on March 13 that Russian and Turkish military officials had agreed on the details of a new ceasefire in the Idlib de-escalation zone following four days of talks in Ankara.

Akar said the first joint patrol by Turkey and Russia on the M4 highway in Idlib would take place on March 15, and that Turkey and Russia would set up joint coordination centers in the area.

The announcement followed a telephone call between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan the previous day to discuss the implementation of the agreements the two leaders had reached in Moscow the previous week.

“Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan reaffirmed the importance of continued close joint efforts, first of all between the Russian and Turkish defense ministries, in order to ensure a stable ceasefire and further stabilization of the situation,” a Kremlin press release read.

Another US convoy enters northeastern Syria from neighboring Iraq

Separately, as part of Washington’s aggressive attempts to control oil reserves in Syria and plunder natural resources, the US military has dispatched truckloads of military and logistical equipment to the country's northeastern province of Hasakah.

Local sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Syria’s official news agency SANA that a convoy of 45 trucks rumbled through the Waleed border crossing on Tuesday, drove past the villages of Yusufiyah and Tal Alou, and headed toward US military positions in the eastern countryside of the province.

The sources added that seven armored vehicles and a number of fuel tankers accompanied the convoy.

The development took place only a day after the US military sent a convoy of 40 trucks carrying military and logistical equipment to the Jazira Region in Hasakah province.

Since late October 2019, the United States has been redeploying troops to the oil fields controlled by Kurdish forces in eastern Syria, in a reversal of President Donald Trump’s earlier order to withdraw all troops there.

The Pentagon alleges that the move aims to “protect” the fields and facilities from possible attacks by Daesh, ignoring the fact that Trump had earlier suggested that Washington sought economic interests in controlling the oil fields.

Syria, which has not authorized the presence of the US military in its territory, says Washington is “plundering” the country’s oil.

The presence of US forces in eastern Syria has particularly irked the civilians, and local residents have on several occasions stopped American military convoys entering the region.

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