Turkey Shoots Down Syrian Warplane as Fighting Escalates

Turkey shot down a Syrian government warplane on March 3 over northwest Syria, where fighting has intensified in recent weeks as Turkish forces have intervened in the battle over the last remaining area under rebel control.

It was the third Syrian warplane Turkey has shot down since Sunday in an escalating campaign against President Bashar al-Assads forces that threatens to bring NATO-member Turkey into direct confrontation with Assads superpower ally Russia.

With more than a million refugees amassing since December on the Turkish border, the battle for Idlib has brought what the United Nations fears might be the worst humanitarian crisis of the nine-year-old Syrian civil war.

Turkish-backed rebels have fought back and forth in recent weeks against government forces backed by Russia and Iran for control of the strategic crossroads town of Saraqeb. The town controls access both to Syrias biggest city Aleppo, held by the government, and to Idlib, the last major rebel-held city.

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Migrants arrive at the village of Skala Sikaminias on the Greek island of Lesbos, after crossing the Aegean sea from Turkey, on March 1, 2020. (Michael Varaklas/AP Photo)

Last week, a Syrian air strike killed at least 34 Turkish soldiers in the deadliest attack on the Turkish army in decades. Moscow, which has anti-aircraft missiles in Syria, has since warned Turkey that it cannot guarantee the safety of Turkish planes in Syrian skies.

The Turkish Defense Ministry said on Tuesday that its forces had shot down a Syrian L-39 ground attack jet. Syrias state-run SANA news agency confirmed the plane had been shot down over Idlib province by missiles fired from Turkish warplanes.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Russias Vladimir Putin are due to meet on Thursday to try to find ways to avert conflict.

Asked about the prospect of direct clashes with Turkey, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, “We hope that were able to absolutely minimize this risk thanks to the close contact between the tRead More – Source

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