Turkey's President Erdogan says a resounding blow has been dealt to Bashar al Assad's regime over attack on Turkish soldiers.
Turkish soldiers will continue to respond to Syrian regime attacks, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday, as the two sides engage in deadly tit-for-tat skirmishes in northern Syria.
"The more they attack our soldiers, they will pay a very, very heavy price," Erdogan told a televised ceremony in Ankara.
"We have dealt a resounding blow to the Syrian [regime]. They have been seriously punished, especially in Idlib, but this is not enough, there is more to come."
Erdogan's comments come a day after Turkish officials said 101 Syrian regime soldiers had been eliminated following the killing of five Turkish soldiers in Idlib — the last major rebel bastion.
Meanwhile, Syrian regime forces seized control of a highway in northwest Syria for the first time since 2012 on Tuesday, a war monitor said, as talks ended between Turkey and Russia on stopping clashes that killed 13 Turkish military personnel in a week.
The regime's attacks also killed 13 civilians.
The M5 highway is the main road between Aleppo and the capital Damascus and runs through to Daraa in southern Syria.
The regime forces seized the entire length of the M5 after driving opposition forces and rebels from their last foothold on the road, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based war monitor, said.
Those forces, backed by Russia and Iran, took control of the highway after capturing a western suburb of Aleppo from insurgents as the regime intensified its campaign to capture the last opposition-held stronghold in Syria's nearly nine-year war.
Last week, the regime forces recaptured Saraqeb, a crossroads town where the M5 intersects with a main west-east highway.
Turkey retaliated the regime shelling
Turkey said it retaliated on Monday after "intense" shelling by the regime forces.
Turkey's Defence Ministry said its forces rapidly retaliated against the Assad regime under the rules of engagement and its right to legitimate self-defence.
On Twitter, the Defence Ministry said 115 Syrian regime targets were hit and 101 regime personnel killed.
The ministry added that three tanks, two howitzer positions, and one regime helicopter were also hit.
Last week’s attack by regime forces in Idlib killed seven Turkish soldiers and one civilian contractor working with the Turkish military and injured more than a dozen people.
In retaliation, Turkey last week struck more than 50 targets and killed 76 Syrian regime soldiers.
Syrian regime attacks on Turkish forces prompted some of the most serious confrontations between Ankara and Damascus.
The exchange of fire came as a Russian delegation held a second round of talks in the Turkish capital of Ankara to discuss the fighting in Idlib province, which has uprooted more than a half-million people in the past two months.
No statement was issued at the end of the talks.
Turkey supports the Syrian opposition, while Russia heavily backs the Syrian regime's campaign to retake the area, which is the last rebel stronghold in Syria.
The fighting has led Turkey to send hundreds of military vehicles and troops into Idlib province in the past week, bringing Turkey and the regime forces into direct confrontation, a rarity in the Syrian conflict.