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World News Briefs -- February 20, 2020

Reuters: Flare-up in fighting in northwest Syria pulls in Russian, Turkish forces

AZAZ, Syria/ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish forces and Syrian rebels fought government troops in northwest Syria on Thursday and Russian warplanes struck back in a sharp escalation of an intense battle over the last rebel bastions, Russian and Turkish officials said.

The Turkish Defense Ministry said two of its soldiers were killed and five were wounded in Syrian government air strikes in Idlib, bringing Turkish military fatalities to 15 this month in the Idlib region. It said more than 50 Syrian soldiers had been killed in retaliation.

Earlier, talks between Moscow and Ankara, who back different sides in Syria’s nine-year war, had failed to reach a compromise to ease the situation and head off a direct confrontation between them in Aleppo and Idlib provinces.

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