Russia and Turkey offer conflicting reports on Turkish soldiers' death

The three soldiers were killed in Russian air strikes in Syria. Turkey says the Kremlin knew about the military personnel's location while Russia says its warplanes hit coordinates given by the Turkish military.

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

After a briefing at the Defense Ministry in Moscow, Russia, the Kremlin said it teamed up with Turkey to conduct joint air strikes against Daesh strongholds in northern Syria.

Updated Feb 11, 2017

The Kremlin and the Turkish military gave conflicting accounts on Friday of who was responsible for the accidental death of three Turkish soldiers in Russian air strikes in Syria.

The "friendly fire" incident occurred during an operation against Daesh near the northern Syrian city of al-Bab on Thursday, highlighting the risk of unintended clashes between the numerous outside powers in a complex war.

The Turkish military said on Friday it had given the coordinates of the building in Syria where three Turkish soldiers were accidentally killed in a Russian air strike to its Russian counterparts a day before the incident.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the air strikes had been launched based on coordinates provided to Russia by the Turkish military. However, the Kremlin said, Turkish soldiers were not supposed to have been at the location.

The Turkish statement said the soldiers had been in the same position for 10 days and that their coordinates had been communicated to Russia's Khmeimim air base in Syria, and in person to the Russian military attache in Ankara.

"Unfortunately, our military, while carrying out strikes on terrorists, was guided by coordinates given to them by our Turkish partners, and Turkish servicemen should not have been present on those coordinates," Peskov told a conference call with reporters.

"It was a lack of coordination in providing coordinates, that is how I would formulate it."

The Turkish military said it regularly shares information with Russia about its operations in Syria as part of a deal in place with Moscow.

Russia is a major ally of Syrian regime leader Bashar al-Assad, while Turkey supports the rebels who oppose him. In 2015, Turkey shot down a Russian air force jet that it said had crossed into Turkish airspace, though Moscow denied any incursion.

The two countries have since repaired relations and have been coordinating efforts against Daesh in al-Bab.

TRT World  has more.

Putin and Erdogan speak

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke over the phone after the incident and agreed to step up military coordination against Daesh.

Speaking with reporters in the city of Afyon, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said on Friday it was important that Putin had expressed his condolences to Erdogan.

"From our side the issue is being investigated. Initial information shows this was an accident ... and an undesired incident as a result of incorrect information, coordinates," Kurtulmus said in televised comments.

"It has been understood that closer coordination is required, both with the coalition and with Russia."

TRTWorld and agencies