Syrian government forces shoot down Turkish drone in Saraqib
Iran Press TV
Tuesday, 03 March 2020 1:15 PM
Syrian government forces have intercepted and targeted an unmanned aerial vehicle belonging to Turkish military while flying in the skies over a strategic city in the country's northwestern province of Idlib.
Syria's official news agency SANA reported that government air defense forces shot down the drone as it was on a mission over Saraqib, located 27 kilometers (17 miles) north of Ma`arat al-Nu`man city, on Tuesday afternoon.
The development came only hours after Syria confirmed that one of its military aircraft had been targeted by a missile fired by Turkish military forces as it was carrying out a combat mission against positions of terrorist groups in the area.
An unnamed Syrian military source said in a statement to SANA that the warplane was downed at 11:03 a.m. Damascus time (0903 GMT) on Tuesday northwest of Ma'arat al-Nu'man.
Separately, the Turkish Defense Ministry said in a statement that one of its F-16 fighter jets had downed a Syrian military plane in Syria's northwestern Idlib province, identifying the aircraft as a high-performance Aero L-39 Albatros jet trainer developed in Czechoslovakia.
A day earlier, Syrian government forces, backed by allied fighters from popular defense groups, had managed to retake Saraqib.
SANA reported that Syrian army soldiers and their allies entered the city on Monday after violent clashes with the extremists, and severely hitting their positions and fortification lines.
Saraqib has a strategic significance as it overlooks the 450-kilometer-long M5 highway.
The M5 highway starts in southern Syria, near the border with Jordan, and runs all the way north to the city of Aleppo near the Turkish border.
Since 2012, the M5 had been controlled by various foreign-backed militant groups. Syrian government forces started regaining parts of the highway in 2014, but they were only able to take full control during the latest offensive.
Syrian army troops and their allies established control over the highway on February 10 after dealing heavy blows to Takfiris south and west of Aleppo.
The Damascus government began road repair shortly afterwards, and the Syrian Ministry of Transport announced on February 22 that the highway was officially open to traffic and "at the full disposal of citizens."
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