Russian airstrike mistakenly kills 3 Turkish soldiers in Syria

Russian President Vladmir Putin, left, meets with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016.

Story highlights

  • Vladimir Putin expressed condolences in phone call to Turkish leader, report says
  • Turkey and Russia have clashed over earlier deadly incidents involving the military

(CNN)Three Turkish soldiers were mistakenly killed and 11 were injured in a Russian airstrike near the Syrian city of al-Bab, the Turkish armed forces said Thursday.

Russian state-run news agency Tass reported Russian President Vladimir Putin held a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and "conveyed his condolences over a tragic accident causing the death of several Turkish military servicemen. ..."
A Russian Ministry of Defense statement said fighter jets were performing a combat mission to destroy ISIS militants' position in the area.
The statement said Gen. Valery Gerasimov, chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces, expressed his condolences to Turkish Gen. Hulusi Akar for the men "killed as a result of unintended attack by a Russian plane."
"The heads of the General Staff agreed to a closer coordination of the joint actions and to exchange information about the situation on the ground," the statement said.
Turkey and Russia have clashed over other deadly incidents involving the military.
In November 2015, Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet, killing one pilot and injuring another. The two nations disagreed on whether the plane had violated Turkish airspace.
Tensions were further strained in December when the Russian ambassador to Turkey was assassinated at an art gallery in Ankara. Ambassador Andrey Karlov's shooting was captured in real time in photos and video that quickly spread through the Internet worldwide.
But Turkey and Russia have also worked to broker ceasefires in the Syrian civil war.