Three Turkish soldiers were killed and 10 were wounded in northern Syria on Thursday in what the Turkish military said was a pre-dawn airstrike believed to have been carried out by Syrian government forces.

A statement posted on the website of the Turkish Armed Forces said the attack took place at 3 a.m. but did not provide an exact location for the strike. Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency said the airstrike took place near the town of al-Bab, which Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces are trying to take back from the Islamic State group.

One of the wounded soldiers was said to be in critical condition, the military said.

More on this...

The casualties are likely to ratchet up tensions between Ankara and Damascus. In August, Ankara sent ground troops into northern Syria to support Syrian opposition fighters battle the IS and to curb Syrian Kurdish forces' territorial gains. Ankara views Syrian Kurdish troops as an extension of the Kurdish insurgency in southeastern Turkey.

The Turkish troops are not fighting Syrian government forces and the attack would be the first assault on Turkish soldiers by the Syrian government forces.

The bodies of the dead have been taken to the morgue in the southeastern Turkish city of Gaziantep by helicopter, the army said. The 10 wounded soldiers were being treated at hospitals in Gaziantep and in the neighboring city of Kilis.