An already tense situation has escalated into a deadly tit-for-tat violent struggle in northwest Syria. The Syrian government troops of President Assad have attacked Turkish troops killing six in an artillery barrage in Idlib. The Turkish military responded with strikes of their own, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reported that they hit over 40 Syrian positions in the area, killing dozens of Syrian troops in the process. 

The fighting between the two militaries is forcing Russia in an uncomfortable and very difficult situation as they’re already a staunch ally of the Assad regime and have supported him for years. But the Russians also agreed with the placement of Turkish forces in Idlib to prevent further violence in the area, which is exactly what Assad’s forces are doing. 

The 2018 de-escalation agreement was supposed to prevent accidental confrontations. But this attack on the Turkish forces was considered by Ankara to be brazen and deliberate.

The fighting in Idlib province, where the last of the rebel-held territory is, has pushed the tensions to a boiling point. Idlib is home to nearly three million civilians of which about 700,000 have been displaced, just since last May. Almost 1,500 civilians were killed last year.