RT’s reporter said that Turkish military handed over the Syrian soldiers to a delegation of the Russian Military Police in the Darbasiyah border crossing in the northern al-Hasakah countryside.
The eighteen soldiers were captured on October 29, when Syrian militants backed by Turkish battle tanks attacked their position near Ras al-Ain.
Videos released by Turkish-backed militants themselves show that they executed a 19th soldier after capturing him alive.
Reporting on the service members release, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said that the eighteen soldiers were not treated according to international or humanitarian laws.
“They were all transported to Syria without receiving medical treatment or even first aid, they all arrived with blood covering their bodies and their cloths were torn,” the monitoring group’s report reads.
The Turkish Ministry of National Defence announced earlier on October 31 that it was discussing the issue of the Syrian captives with Russia. Initially, the ministry declined to confirm that the prisoners were indeed service members of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).
A Syrian Kurdish official said the soldiers were captured Tuesday during an intense battle between Syrian government forces and Turkey-backed fighters. Kurdish fighters were fighting alongside the Syrian troops.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly said Turkey would never allow Syrian Kurdish fighters viewed as “terrorists” by Ankara to stay on the Syria-Turkish border wearing “regime clothes.”
By facilitating the release of the Syrian soldiers, Moscow has prevented a further escalation between Ankara and Damascus.
It should be taken into acount that the Syrian Army has encircled dozens of Turkish troops at an observation post in northern Hama.