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Syrian-Turkish War In Idlib Escalates

March 2, 2020 (EIRNS)—The war between Syria and Turkey seriously escalated yesterday, and the battle has extended into the air over Idlib. After Turkish forces shot down two Syrian warplanes yesterday (the pilots ejected and were reportedly recovered safely), the Syrian military declared a no-fly zone over the province. Turkey’s “hostile acts will not succeed in saving terrorists from the strikes of the Syrian Arab Army, and they prove the Turkish regime’s disavowal of all the previous agreements, including Sochi memorandum,” the Syrian military said in a statement, reported the official news agency SANA.

Therefore, “the Army and Armed Forces General Command announces closing the airspace for flights and for any drones over the northwestern region in Syria, particularly over Idlib province,” it said. “Any aircraft that violates the Syrian airspace will be dealt with as a hostile aircraft that must be downed and prevented from achieving its hostile goals.”

The Russian Center for the Reconciliation of the Opposing Sides followed up the Syrian military announcement by publicly warning that the Russian military cannot guarantee the safety of Turkish aircraft flying in Idlib’s airspace.

The Syrian army said yesterday that it had shot down four Turkish drones “as part of their [Syria’s] operations against terrorists in Idlib countryside, and targeted with concentrated strikes the movements of terrorists in the province.” According to SANA, the Turkish military is relying mainly on advanced drones to support terrorists with cover fire and reconnaissance.

On the ground, the Syrian army has clearly suffered setbacks in southern Idlib over the past few days as a result of direct Turkish support for the jihadi formations, including the loss of Saraqib, last week. However, it has not suffered the kind of defeats that Turkey’s claims of Syrian casualties might suggest. There have been see-saw battles in the Jabal Al-Zawiya region of southern Idlib, and Syrian troops have re-entered Saraqib, though they may not yet have re-secured the city. According to late reports, the Syrian army is actually on the verge of recovering all of the territory lost to the jihadis late last week.

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