Turkish Air Force F-16 fighter jets shot down two Syrian Air Force Sukhoi Su-24 warplanes over the Syrian province of Idlib, the country’s state-run news agency SANA reported.
According to the report, the pilots ejected safely and landed in the government-controlled area.
#İdlib güneyi Cebel ez-Zaviye Bölgesi'nde düşürülen Rejim'e ait SU-24 savaş uçağı görüntüleri.#روسيا #إدلب #أردوغان #سوريا #إيران#Syria #Turkey #Idlib #Aleppo #Erdogan #Saraqib pic.twitter.com/9zsIsykzF1
— Selâmi Haktan (@slmhktn) March 1, 2020
In a Twitter post on Sunday, Turkey’s defence ministry said its forces struck two SU-24 aircraft in response to the downing of the drone.
Bir SİHA’mızı düşüren Hava Savunma Sistemi ile diğer iki Hava Savunma Sistemi imha edilmiş, uçaklarımıza taarruz eden Rejime ait iki adet SU-24 tipi uçak düşürülmüştür.https://t.co/pTpScFhR6M#MSB #TSK #BaharKalkanıHarekatı
— T.C. Millî Savunma Bakanlığı (@tcsavunma) March 1, 2020
“Some 2,200 Syrian regime troops, a drone, eight helicopters, 103 tanks, tens of howitzers, and three air defense systems were neutralized,” Akar said of the newly announced operation.
2 fighter jets belonging to the border-breaching #Syrian regime were shot down by #Turkish F-16s. One of the planes has been confirmed to be a SU-24.#Turkey #Syria #Suriye #Türkiye #TSK #Idlib #Aleppo #Halep #İdlib@clashreportpic.twitter.com/Xw6Ii9sL4G
— The Great Turks (@TurkishArmedFcs) March 1, 2020
“We do not aim to face off with Russia. Our only aim is to stop the Syrian regime’s massacres, radicalization and migration,” he added.
Akar continued his plea for Russian assistance, saying that “Turkey expects Russia to use its influence to bring an end to the Syrian regime’s attacks, and its withdrawal to the Sochi-deal borders.”
Amid the escalating tensions, the Syrian government closed the airspace over Idlib, with one official telling SANA any aircraft “that violates our airspace will be treated as a hostile flight that must be shot down and prevented from achieving its objectives”.
“Any aircraft that violates our airspace will be dealt with as an enemy aircraft that must be brought down,” state news agency SANA said, citing a military source.
Turkish forces have been hitting Syrian government targets in Idlib in recent weeks. In February, 55 Turkish soldiers were killed in Syrian government attacks, including airstrikes, in Idlib.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that he had asked President Vladimir Putin for Russia to stand aside in Syria and let Turkey fight Syrian government forces alone, after last week’s killing of its soldiers.
“We went there because we were invited by the people of Syria,” Erdogan said. “We don’t intend to leave before the people of Syria say, ‘Okay, this is done.'”