10:42 GMT02 July 2020
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    Tensions in the northwestern Syrian region, the last province where major concentrations of jihadist forces continue to operate, have escalated this month amid repeated militant shelling of civilian areas, and the detonation of a roadside bomb on Wednesday which killed one Turkish soldier and wounded another.

    The Syrian Army has uncovered a stash of weapons and ammunition hidden by militants before their retreat from the southern Idlib countryside, including components of an anti-aircraft gun, rocket launchers, tanks, armoured troop transports, rockets and mortar shells, and the remnants of what appears to be Turkish-made drone, SANA has reported.

    The news agency but posted multiple photos of part of the haul.

    The weapons are said to have been discovered during an ongoing operation to secure areas recently liberated from the jihadists, which includes combing the area for hidden weapons stocks, and finding potential booby traps and mines, with the precautions taken before locals are allowed to return to their communities.

    The Turkish military has not commented on SANA’s report. Ankara is known to have used drones in Syria on a large scale in February and March after tensions between Turkish and Syrian forces turned into an active shooting war over a Syrian offensive aimed at liberating its northwestern province from Turkish-backed militants.

    Tensions subsided somewhat in early March after Russia and Turkey agreed to a ceasefire, but began escalating again in early May as jihadists began shelling towns in Idlib, Latakia and Aleppo with rocket and mortar fire.

    On Wednesday, Turkey’s Defence Ministry reported that one Turkish soldier was killed and another injured after a roadside bomb exploded on Syria’s M4 highway in Idlib as a Turkish convoy was passing by. No group has claimed responsibility for the blast. The M4 is patrolled by both Turkish and Russian forces, with the patrols aimed at keeping Syrian forces and pro-Turkish militants separated.

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