At least three Russian soldiers on a joint Russian-Turkish patrol in northwest Syria have been injured in a car bomb explosion, media reported and the Russian military confirmed Tuesday.
Footage shared by local reporters showed the blast on a single-lane road as military vehicles passed nearby in the insurgent region of Idlib.
“Three Russian soldiers were slightly injured,” Al Jazeera Arabic reporter Maan Alkhoder tweeted, citing the Syrian opposition.
Russia’s reconciliation center confirmed the explosion and the injuries, saying later Tuesday that terrorists damaged one Russian and one Turkish armored vehicle. It said it was working to establish the group responsible for the blast.
The injured troops have been evacuated to Russia’s military base in Khmeimim on the Mediterranean coast, the reconciliation center said and added that Turkish troops have also been wounded.
German journalist Julian Röpcke identified the site of the car bomb attack as the entrance to the town of Arihah 15 kilometers south of Idlib.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) monitor said the 21st Russian-Turkish joint patrol was the first to cover the entire M4 highway stretching from the cities of Latakia to Aleppo.
SOHR said the patrol was held up because the Turkish army was allegedly detonating landmines. It was unclear whether the two incidents were related.
No group has claimed responsibility for the explosion immediately after the incident.
Tensions flared up between Russia and Turkey in early February after Russian-backed Syrian government forces killed Turkish troops in Idlib.
Russia, a close ally of the Syrian government, struck a deal with Turkey in 2018 to create a demilitarized zone in Idlib, but those agreements and others between the two countries have come under strain amid mounting tensions in the region.