Turkey downs Syrian plane in Idlib as tensions rise

Updated March 04, 2020

Email

An aerial view shows refugees on road at Turkey's Pazarkule border crossing with Greece's Kastanies, southwest of Edirne, Turkey on March 3. — Satellite image ©2020 Maxar Technologies/Handout via Reuters
An aerial view shows refugees on road at Turkey's Pazarkule border crossing with Greece's Kastanies, southwest of Edirne, Turkey on March 3. — Satellite image ©2020 Maxar Technologies/Handout via Reuters

ANKARA: Turkey shot down a Syrian fighter jet in Syria’s Idlib province on Tuesday, marking the third such incident in as many days, as steady clashes between the two national armies continued over a Russia-backed Syrian government offensive near the Turkish border.

State-run Syrian media said troops shot down a Turkish drone, keeping up a clash in the skies over the northwestern province that has gone on for days and signaled a new stage in the nine-year-old war.

Ahead of a much-anticipated summit later this week between the presidents of Turkey and Russia, the two main power brokers in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov again laid the blame for the escalation squarely on Turkey.

Keeping up the pressure on the battlefield, Turkey’s military downed a warplane belonging to Syrian government forces the third time they have done so since Sunday.

The Syrian military said Turkish forces targeted a warplane with a missile as it was carrying out operations against terrorist groups in the rebel-held Idlib region, causing it to crash northwest of the town of Maaret al-Numan. The fate of the crew was not clear.

Tensions in Idlib rose following the Syrian strike that killed the 33 Turkish soldiers. Turkey responded with drone attacks and shelling that killed more than 90 Syrian troops and allied gunmen.

Published in Dawn, March 4th, 2020