War in Syria: Turkey strengthens the attacks of the Idlib after the air raid


Turkey shot down two Syrian fighter planes on Sunday as it intensified military action in northern Syria.

The pilots dropped their parachutes over Idlib province, where Turkish troops and rebels are clashing with Syrian government troops.

Turkey, which supports the opposition, said it also had Syrian air defense systems and dozens of tanks in its sights.

Tension in Idlib escalated sharply last week when at least 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in an air strike.

The incident triggered fears of a major escalation involving Turkey and Syria’s main military ally, Russia.

But on Sunday, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said the country did not want conflict with Russia.

“We expect Russia to stop the regime’s attacks,” he said in a television statement. “We have neither the desire nor the intention to clash with Russia.”

Brutal Idlib final risks being based
Why is the fight for the idlib important?
Dozens of Turkish troops killed in Idlib
Mr. Akar called the recent operation against the Syrian army “Spring Shield”. He said it destroyed one drone, eight helicopters, 103 tanks, as well as rocket launchers and other military equipment.

He added that 2,212 members of the Syrian armed forces had been “neutralized”, a term that stands for persons killed, wounded or captured.

But the Syrian Human Rights Observatory, a UK-based war observer, said that 74 Syrian government troops and pro-Damascus fighters have been killed since February 27.

Recent developments have strained relations between Ankara and Moscow. But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin next week.

Meanwhile, the EU has called an emergency meeting of foreign ministers on the conflict.

What is the context?
Syrian government troops, with Russian support, have tried to recapture the idlib from jihadist groups and Turkish-backed rebel groups.

The Idlib is the last Syrian province where Syrian rebel groups still control a significant area.

The Syrian Government’s advance has displaced almost one million civilians who have fled to areas near the Turkish border. Turkey says it is already hosting millions of refugees and does not have the means to allow any more to enter.

Turkey has some troops at observation points in Idlib as part of a 2018 agreement with Russia, and President Erdogan had previously threatened to confront Syrian government troops if they did not withdraw from positions near the Turkish observation points.

The attack on Turkish troops last week came after rebels supported by Turkey retook the key city of Saraqeb, northeast of Balyun. Russia denies that its own troops were involved in the fighting in the Balyun area.

But Russia and Turkey support the opposing sides in the civil war. Turkey is against the government of Bashar al-Assad and supports some rebel groups.

Russia has rejected the UN Security Council’s demands for a humanitarian ceasefire in northern Syria, saying that the only solution is to drive the so-called terrorists out of the country.

The Syrian government, which is regularly accused of committing atrocities against the civilian population, says it is freeing Idlib from “terrorism”.

The Turkish and Russian presidents spoke on the phone on Friday. They both expressed concern and agreed on the need for “additional measuresWhy is Turkey so deeply involved in Syria?

Why is Turkey so deeply involved in Syria?
Its long border with Syria has brought it into close contact with the civil war, and its strong opposition to the Assad government has made it a natural target for refugees.

But President Erdogan has said that it cannot cope with the number of people fleeing the civil war. Turkey has vowed to open its doors to migrants to travel to the EU.

Turkey is also actively trying to prevent the Syrian Kurdish community from taking control of the border region, fearing that this would encourage Kurdish separatism within Turkey itself.

It has been accused of wanting to drive Kurds from the border in order to create a safe area within Syria, where two million refugees are to be accommodated.


About Author

Mette Frederiksen is a The Washington Newsday correspondent. With her coverage of general science, NASA and the interface between technology and society, Frederiksen has been in the Science Desk's Technology Beat since joining Washington Newsday in 2018.

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