Turkey downs Syrian fighter jet as it intensifies Idlib attacks
Iran Press TV
Tuesday, 03 March 2020 10:49 AM
Turkey has shot down a Syrian fighter jet over the embattled northwestern province of Idlib, where Ankara supports militant groups fight against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
The Defense Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that Turkish F-16 jet had downed an L-39 type warplane belonging to the Syrian government.
Syria's SANA news agency confirmed that a Syrian government plane had been "targeted" in the Idlib region. Turkey shot down two more Syrian aircraft on Sunday.
The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that the plane was brought down by a Turkish F-16 and crashed to the ground in a government-held area south of Idlib.
The UK-based monitoring group said that the fate of the crew was not immediately clear.
Separately, SANA said Syrian government forces had eliminated the Turkish-backed terrorist groups from the villages and towns of Joubas, Trinbeh, Dadikh, and Kafr Batikh in Saraqeb area, Idlib's southeastern countryside.
On Monday, Syrian army soldiers and their allies entered the strategic city of Saraqeb after violent clashes with the extremists and severely hitting their positions and fortified lines.
Saraqeb has a strategic significance as it overlooks the 450-kilometer M5 highway. The 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 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.
Syria's ongoing offensive in Idlib was launched in August 2019 to oust terrorists from their last major bastion in the Arab country after repeated attacks on Syrian and Russian positions.
Under a deal reached between Turkey and Russia in the Black Sea resort of Sochi in September 2018, Turkish troops were deployed in Idlib and set up observation posts there.
The agreement required Ankara to oust Takfiri terrorists from the northwestern Syrian province. But, more than a year into the Sochi deal, terrorists rule supreme in Idlib in close proximity to the Turkish troops.
Turkey has deployed massive troops and military equipment in recent weeks to stop Syrian troops from advancing to oust the terrorists.
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