While the Coronavirus is dominating the news, an ominous series of events is unfolding once again in Syria. A rocket attack killed two Turkish soldiers and wounded a third in Syria’s northwest Idlib province on Friday, the Turkish military said in a statement. 

The Turkish Defense Ministry said that the rocket attack was carried out by “radical groups.” Turkey’s artillery units immediately retaliated by mounting, what the official statement characterized as, a powerful response — but the Defense Ministry didn’t elaborate further.

It was only two weeks ago that Russia, which supports the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad and Turkey, which is supporting the rebels agreed to a cease-fire in Idlib. The Syrian army had mounted a large offensive to oust the rebels from their last stronghold in the country. 

The conflict in Idlib has sent about a million more refugees streaming towards Turkey, which already houses about three and a half million from the nine-year-long civil war.

The Turks have sent a massive amount of troops streaming across the border to stem the conflict’s tide and to create a buffer zone along their border. 

But soon their troops and those of the Syrians began to clash. More than 60 Turkish soldiers and hundreds of Syrian troops have been killed in the fighting between the two armies since early February.

The Russians have provided air support and conducted airstrikes on the rebel forces… with some of the strikes being rumored to have hit Turkish troops.

The ceasefire agreed upon between Russia and Turkey is important as it put, at least temporarily, a stop to the fighting which was close to raging out of control. Both sides agreed to conduct joint patrols along the vitally important M4 highway. But those were cut short as some resistance groups blocked the road to keep the Russian troops from patrolling in what the Russians characterized “rebel provocations.