Three Turkish soldiers were killed and 10 others wounded in an air attack believed to have been carried out by the Syrian regime yesterday, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) said in a statement.
At around 03:30 a.m. local time (0030GMT), the airstrikes were carried out on Turkish troops close to the town of al-Bab in northern Aleppo in Syria, the Turkish General Staff confirmed.
The dead and wounded troops were brought to hospitals in Kilis and Gaziantep provinces in southern Turkey. One of the injured soldiers remains in critical condition.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım were briefed on the attack by Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and Defense Minister Fikri Işık.
As the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) prepares for an extensive operation in al-Bab, the People's Protection Units (YPG)-dominated Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) has also been approaching the town from the east, fighting the FSA to take villages along the way. The SDF is just around 10 kilometers away from al-Bab.
In addition, the Assad regime recently made its intentions known to launch an offensive toward al-Bab. The already complex situation in and around al-Bab is likely to get even more complicated with the Assad regime in the present mix.
FSA presence in the region poses a threat to the regime. If al-Bab was to be seized by the FSA, it would allow the opposition fighters to transport humanitarian aid as well as military equipment to their fellow fighters in and around Aleppo.
The TSK, meanwhile, announced that at least 14 Daesh targets were destroyed on Wednesday as part of its Operation Euphrates Shield, launched by Turkey in late August to rid northern Syria of terrorist presence.
The targets were located in the towns of Qabasin, Bzaa, Arima as well as al-Bab.
Over 215 residential areas, including more than 1,800 square kilometers (694 square miles) of land in northern Syria have so far been cleared of Daesh terrorists as part of the operation, which has entered its 93rd day.
Turkey launched the operation in cooperation with the FSA on Aug. 24 to clear its southern border of Daish terrorists and liberate north Syrian towns of the terrorist group.
The operation is in line with the country's right to self-defense borne out of international treaties and a mandate given to Turkey's armed forces by its Parliament in 2014, which was extended for another year in September 2015.