Ankara is in talks with Russia to return 18 members of the Syrian army captured during fighting after a Turkish incursion in northeastern Syria, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Thursday.
Akar added: “We presented to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the developments of the handover of the elements of the Syrian army, and we have received instructions in this regard”.
Akar has called on his country’s troops, located in the northern Syrian city of Tal Abyad, to be fully prepared.
This came in his speech to the troops stationed in the city, during a visit on Wednesday to the Turkish-Syrian border accompanied by Chief of Staff Yashar Guler, and the commander of ground forces Umit Dundar.
In his speech to the Turkish troops in Tel Abyad, Akar said: “Things haven’t yet settled here, and anything can happen at any moment, so everyone is on standby”.
Syrian opposition factions backed by Turkey said on Tuesday they had detained a number of Syrian army soldiers near Tel Al Hawa in the countryside of Ras Al Ain.
Turkish forces handed over 18 members of the Syrian army recently captured in the border area to government forces in a Russian-sponsored operation.
The handover took place at the Derbasiya border crossing with Turkey, while activists released a video they said was documenting the operation.
In the meantime, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights quoted “reliable sources” that the released soldiers were not dealt with “in accordance with the conventions and laws concerning prisoners”.
The sources pointed out that “the Observatory” that all the prisoners “were transferred to Syria without medication or provide first aid to them, and all arrived and blood covering their bodies and clothes all torn”.
The development comes after Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar announced earlier on Thursday that his country was in talks with Russia on the extradition of 18 Syrian army captives detained on October 29 near the town of Ras Al Ain in the northeastern province of Hasakah.
Clashes between government forces and elements of the Syrian National Army, backed by Ankara, where Syrian soldiers were beaten and humiliated by terrorist groups supported by Ankara in clear violation of international agreements governing the status of prisoners of war.