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Roadside bomb kills Turkish soldier in Syria's Idlib, Defence Ministry says

Blast occurs along strategic M4 highway, which is jointly patrolled by Turkish and Russian forces
Turkish soldiers patrol near destroyed buildings atop Arbaeen Hill overlooking Ariha in southern Syria's Idlib (AFP)

One Turkish soldier was killed and several others wounded by a roadside bomb in Syria's Idlib Province, Turkey's Defence Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

Earlier, Turkey's Demiroren news agency reported that an explosion on the strategic M4 highway was caused by a roadside bomb. 

Video footage posted online showed smoke billowing from a building along the highway before a large explosion occured on the road near the patrol.

"During a road control patrol in the Idlib region, due to an explosion 250 meters south of the search area, and whose cause has not yet been determined, one soldier was wounded and taken to hospital immediately, but was martyred despite all efforts," the ministry said.

Wednesday's attack took place in an area where joint Turkish and Russian patrols are carried out, and it was not immediately clear if Russian troops were present at the time of the blast.

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According to an Associated Press tally, at least 66 Turkish soldiers have been killed in Idlib this year.

In March, Russia and Turkey launched their first joint military patrols along the M4 highway, which connects Latakia with northern Syria, following a ceasefire agreement.

The deal raised hopes of an end to one of the bloodiest phases in Syria's nine-year conflict. 

In December, the Syrian government and it's allies had launched an offensive on the enclave, prompting nearly one million people to flee for safety.

The March truce has largely held and halted indiscriminate aerial assaults by government and Russian warplanes, allowing tens of thousands of Syrians to return to their homes.

The Syrian war erupted in 2011 when government forces cracked down on protesters who, inspired by the Arab Spring, demanded freedom and greater economic opportunities. 

Since then, the protracted conflict has claimed the lives of more than 465,000 Syrians and left over a million wounded. 

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have also taken shelter in crowded displacement camps along the Turkish border, which aid groups fear could be devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

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