© Bulent Kilic, AFP | Turkish soldiers stand next to a tank outside the city of Karkamis near the Syrian border on August 25, 2016.
“In the air strike assessed to have been by Syrian regime forces, three of our heroic soldiers were killed and 10 soldiers wounded, one seriously,” said the statement on its website.
The army said the strike took place at 3:30 am (0030 GMT). Turkish media reported earlier that the attack in the Al Bab region was by Islamic State (IS) jihadists.
The Turkish military launched the operation – dubbed “Euphrates Shield” – in August supporting Syrian opposition fighters seeking to retake territory from IS in northern Syria with tanks and aerial support.
Hundreds of Turkish soldiers are taking part in the operation, which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said this week was pushing forward with its aim of taking Al Bab from IS.
“We reached Al Bab right now and besieged it from the west,” the president said in a speech on Tuesday.
The latest deaths raise to at least 15 the number of Turkish soldiers killed since Turkey began its operation in northern Syria.
Most were killed by IS but one soldier was killed in an attack blamed on the Kurdish People’s Protection Forces (YPG).
The Associated Press
ISTANBUL — Three Turkish soldiers were killed and 10 were wounded in northern Syria on Thursday in what the Turkish military said was a pre-dawn airstrike believed to have been carried out by Syrian government forces.
A statement posted on the website of the Turkish Armed Forces said the attack took place at 3 a.m. but did not provide an exact location for the strike. Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said the airstrike took place near the town of al-Bab, which Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces are trying to take back from the Islamic State group.
One of the wounded soldiers was said to be in critical condition, the military said.
The casualties are likely to ratchet up tensions between Ankara and Damascus. In August, Ankara sent ground troops into northern Syria to support Syrian opposition fighters battle the IS and to curb Syrian Kurdish forces’ territorial gains. Ankara views Syrian Kurdish troops as an extension of the Kurdish insurgency in southeastern Turkey.
The Turkish troops are not fighting Syrian government forces and the attack would be the first assault on Turkish soldiers by the Syrian government forces.
The bodies of the dead have been taken to the morgue in the southeastern Turkish city of Gaziantep by helicopter, the army said. The 10 wounded soldiers were being treated at hospitals in Gaziantep and in the neighboring city of Kilis.
Tags: air strikes, al-Bab, Daesj, first assault on Turkish soldiers by the Syrian government forces, Gaziantep, Islamic state, Kilis, Kurdish, Kurdish insurgency in southeastern Turkey, Kurdish People's Protection Forces, President Bashar al-Assad, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Syria, Syrian Kurdish troops, Turkish army, YPG