The strikes came after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane earlier this week. Airstrikes hit 20 lorries crossing the Turkish-Syrian border on Wednesday, killing seven and injuring 10, according to local news reports. A Turkish humanitarian group helped extinguish the fire. Those on the scene speculated that the airstrikes were launched by Russia, whose Su-24 fighter jet was downed by Turkey on Tuesday, marring relations between the two powers. The lorries were reportedly carrying cement and iron for construction projects, and the head of a nearby border crossing said that a garage for commercial trailers was also hit. The group Humanitarian Aid Relief (İHH) said members of its civil defense unit in Azaz responded to the attack, but has said the trucks that were attacked were not its own. Last year, trucks bearing the IHH logo were allegedly involved in a Turkish intelligence operation to carry weapons to militants in Syria. The organization has denied any involvement.
Turkish state media reported that the lorries were sending supplies to Azaz, which is controlled by both the Free Syrian Army and the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front. The town was also hit by heavy Russian airstrikes earlier, according to activists.
Though Turkey maintains that it is sending humanitarian aid to the area, local Turkmen aligned with the Free Syrian Army have been supported by Turkey.
The attacks came after Russia said it would bolster its air base in the Latakia province, near the Turkish border. The advanced air defense system has the capability of striking planes at long distance, one of other upcoming measures “to ensure (the safety) of our flights,” Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters. Meanwhile, the Turkish embassy in Moscow was attacked on Wednesday with stones and eggs. Russian lawmakers also proposed a bill criminalizing the denial of the Armenian genocide, a pointed attack on the Turkish government.
Moscow is also warning of economic consequences over Turkey’s downing of its warplane, threatening significant commercial relations between the two countries. Last year, Turkey imported over US$23 billion in Russian goods, and the two had planned on raising trade to US$100 billion by 2020. Most of Turkey’s energy also comes Russia, and the two are planning to build a gas pipeline and a nuclear power station, among other projects.
The pro-Kurdish Turkish opposition party, HDP, has warned that Turkey’s downing of the plane would hurt the economy.
The Turkish stock market finished down on Wednesday.