Feb. 27 (UPI) -- A Syrian regime airstrike on Idlib province killed at least 29 Turkish soldiers Thursday as opposition forces retook key territory in the region.
Rahmi Dogan, governor of Turkey's Hatay province, said the airstrike by government forces also injured 36 people.
"There are critically wounded [people, following the attack,] and they are being treated at hospitals," he told Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency.
Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad carried out the attack after Turkish-backed Syrian rebels took control of a key town in northwestern Idlib province.
Opposition fighters captured the town of Saraqib, which is strategically located at the crossroads of two major highways in Syria.
Regime forces took control of the town in January in the last province still held by rebels. Assad sought to reopen the M5 highway, which connects Aleppo, Hama, Homs and Damascus before continuing on to the Jordanian border in the south.
Turkey launched a military offensive in the province last week, targeting government forces and with the aim of recapturing Saraqib.
Sources told the Daily Sabah that the opposition forces continued their advance to retake territory using artillery cover fire.
The Guardian reported it could be difficult for rebels to hold Saraqib amid an assault by Russian airpower to take territory in Idlib. Regime forces took control of more than 20 villages in the southern part of the province Thursday.
The United Nations said more than 400 civilians have died and another 1 million people have fled north toward the Turkish border amid increasing fighting in Idlib since December. Of those who have fled are nearly 180,000 families and 560,000 children.
The recent surge in fighting has led 14 European foreign ministers to call on the regimes in Syria and Russia to stop the hostilities.
The U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Ursula Mueller told the U.N. Security Council on Thursday that international humanitarian law is largely being ignored in the Idlib province.
"Hospitals, schools, camps and other sites where displaced families have sought shelter are not being spared. In the last 10 days, a camp hosting more than 800 people was hit by shelling in Dana, which is now the most crowded of the sub-districts of Idlib governorate. Idlib Central Hospital was among several facilities struck this week, with multiple casualties," she said.
Mueller added that violence against women has also become "routine."