Turkey has reportedly said on March 1 that it was carrying on a military operation dubbed “Spring Shield” in northwest Syria after airstrikes on Thursday killed 34 Turkish soldiers. As per reports, the Syrian military threatened to attack any aircraft over northwest Syria after Turkish drones strikes killed dozens of pro-regime forces in the war-afflicted region. According to the state news agency, Syrian military high command announced the closure of the airspace for planes and any drone above northwestern Syria and especially over the Idlib region.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reportedly said that the Turkish drones killed 26 soldiers in northwest Syria on Saturday. After 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in an airstrike launched by Syrian regime forces on the night of February 27, Ankara retaliated by “neutralising” 309 Syrian troops, said Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar. The former chief of the Turkish General Staff has reportedly claimed that Turkey destroyed five Syrian military helicopter, 23 tanks, 23 howitzers, and two air defence systems.
Akar said that the attack on Turkish forces was launched despite the fact that Ankara had shared the coordinates of its troops with Kremlin. The Defence Minister has alleged that Syrian troops continued their strikes against Turkish forces and targeted ambulances even after the warnings. Akar reportedly dismissed the claims of the presence of Syrian militants saying they didn’t have any other armed groups in the premises.
Russian Defence Ministry reportedly contradicted with the claims made by Turkey saying the Turkish troops were not supposed to be in the area as per the coordinates shared with Russia’s Reconciliation Center in Syria. The Ministry, in the counterclaim, said that the Turkish troops came under fire because they were deployed among “terrorist battle formations”.
Russia and Turkey have been accusing each other of the ceasefire violations and offensive in the Idlib province. But the situation in northwestern Syria escalated following direct conflict between the Turkish forces and Russia-backed Syrian regime troops.
(with inputs from agencies)