Erdogan, Putin discuss Syria as Turkish-backed rebels push to al-Bab

Erdogan, Putin discuss Syria as Turkish-backed rebels push to al-Bab

Twenty two Syrian rebels have been injured in a suspected chemical gas attack from Islamic State group militants in northern Syria, the Turkish army said on Sunday.

After being exposed to bombardment by Turkey's military, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Thursday targeted positions of the Turkish army forces in northern Syria with heavy artillery.

The Turkish solder was killed in a clash as Syrian rebels gained control of northern Syria's Anifah district, the armed forces said in a daily statement on the operation.

Turkey has been helping rebels push I-S fighters further away from the Turkish border, as part of Ankara's operation called "Euphrates Shield".

"Putin expressed condolences to Erdogan in connection with the death of Turkish servicemen on the Syrian territory", Peskov told reporters. It is one of the remaining stronghold of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS). Turkish authorities have banned distribution of images relating to the Syria attack within Turkey.

It was not clear who was responsible.Direct confrontation between NATO-member Turkey and Syrian government forces, which are backed by allies including Russian Federation, would mark a serious escalation in an already messy battlefield in northern Syria.

The regime airstrike on the Turkish soldiers came one year after Turkey downed a Russian fighter jet that brought relations between the two Black Sea powers to the verge of collapse.

The casualties are likely to ratchet up tensions between Ankara and Damascus.

Turkey views the YPG and PYD as an extension of the banned Kurdish separatist PKK, and has vowed to press on and retake Manbij from the SDF after capturing al-Bab from ISIS.

The use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict has been a concern since the civil war began in 2011.

The Kremlin said the discussion on Syria was constructive and that both sides agreed to continue active dialogue to coordinate efforts against worldwide terrorism. Dozens have also been killed and wounded in government-held areas by indiscriminate shelling by the Islamists.