This morning, Turkey has shot down a Syrian warplane over Idlib, northwestern Syria, where fighting has intensified in the past few weeks, which further fuel tensions between Russia and Turkey and speculate a direct confrontation between both countries.
This is the third Syrian war plane that Turkey has downed since Sunday in a growing campaign against the Syrian army, where Turkey supports the armed militias fighting it.
In particular, the fighting intensified north the city of Saraqib, which is of strategic importance, and over which the Syrian government forces regained control on Monday. This city controls the entry to Aleppo and Idlib governorates which remain the militias’ strongholds.
The Syrian official media said that the army is currently cleansing the city and that it directed severe strikes against the gunmen who are still in hideouts on its outskirts. A correspondent for state television said that Turkey is launching artillery shells to stop the progress of army forces.
Reuters quoted a Syrian military commander saying that Russia’s announcement on Monday on the deployment of military police forces in Saraqib aimed at preventing Turkey from trying to help the militants to regain control over the city.
Turkey had sent thousands of troops and armored vehicles to northern Syria in the past month to push back the Syrian forces. Last week, 34 Turkish soldiers were killed in a Syrian air strike, the most violent attack against the Turkish army in decades.
After this attack, Moscow, which is deploying anti-aircraft missiles in Syria, warned that it could not guarantee the safety of Turkish aircraft inside Syrian airspace.
The Turkish Ministry of Defense said today, Tuesday, that its forces shot down a Syrian L-39 warplane. The Syrian Arab News Agency confirmed the plane shot down over Idlib with missiles fired by Turkish warplanes.
Turkish President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, will meet on Thursday to discuss ways to avoid an escalation in the conflict.