Turkey shoots down Syrian warplane as fighting escalates
ISTANBUL: Turkey shot down a Syrian government warplane on Tuesday over northwest Syria, where fighting has intensified in recent weeks as Turkish forces have intervened in the battle over the last remaining area under rebel control.
It was the third Syrian warplane Turkey has shot down since Sunday in an escalating campaign against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces that threatens to bring NATO-member Turkey into direct confrontation with Assad’s superpower ally Russia.
Turkish National Defence Ministry also gave out its 24-hour update on the Operation Spring Shield, saying 327 Syrian regime soldiers were neutralized, and 1 jet, 1 UAV, 6 tanks, 5 howitzer/rocket launchers and 2 air defense systems destroyed, reported Anadolu Agency. With more than a million refugees amassing since December on the Turkish border, the battle for Idlib has brought what the United Nations fears might be the worst humanitarian crisis of the nine-year-old Syrian civil war.
Turkish-backed rebels have fought back and forth in recent weeks against government forces backed by Russia and Iran for control of the strategic crossroads town of Saraqeb. The town controls access both to Syria’s biggest city Aleppo, held by the government, and to Idlib, the last major rebel-held city. – Reuters