Diplomatic efforts speed up to deescalate situation in Idlib
Following the heavy and bloody clashes between Turkish and Syrian forces in the northwest of Syria, diplomatic endeavors speed-up to find a peaceful solution for Idlib and de-escalate the situation.
Iran Press/Middle East: As the military escalation led to growing direct clashes between Turkish and Syrian forces, Syria’s official news agency announced that two Syrian Su-24 jets warplane were shot down by Turkish forces inside northwest Syria; the four pilots ejected with parachutes and landed safely.
Turkey launched a fresh Syria operation said the country’s defense chief on Sunday.
“Operation Spring Shield, which was launched following the attack on Turkish troops on Feb. 27 is successfully being carried out,” Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said as he is commanding the operation from Turkey’s southern Hatay province, bordering Syria.
Meanwhile, He claimed that Turkey’s only target during the operation would be soldiers of Syrian government in Idlib under what he described as the right to self-defense.
On the other side of the conflict, the head of the Russian Military’s Reconciliation Center in Syria said Sunday that Russia can no longer guarantee the safety of Turkish aircraft flying in Syrian airspace.
In a statement released late Sunday Rear Adm. Oleg Zhuravlev said that "in view of the sharp exacerbation of tensions in the air space over Idlib" the Syrian Military was "forced to declare it closed.”
“In this situation, the Russian troops’ command can’t guarantee the security of flights of Turkish aircraft in the skies over Syria," Zhuravlev said.
Sunday, Syria said northwestern airspace was closed and any aircraft or drone that entered “will be treated as hostile and shot down.”
The Syrian government announcement followed two days of Turkish drone strikes in Idlib province. Turkey has lost 54 soldiers in February, including 33 killed Thursday in a single airstrike.
President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday described the situation in Idlib as worrisome, saying that Astana peace process agreements must be implemented at earliest so that peace and security will be restored in the region.
In a telephone conversation, Turkey's president asked his French counterpart, Erdogan said that expects NATO’s concrete and clear solidarity during a phone call.
A bilateral meeting between Moscow and Ankara is scheduled to be held in Moscow on Thursday, in which both sides will aim to patch up a dispute over the fate of Idlib.
Turkey has deployed around 7,000 troops to Idlib in the last month to protect the forces it sent in under a de-escalation agreement made with Russia in 2018.
In past month, the Syrian army has managed to liberate several areas and villages in the south and east of Idlib province. The province of Idlib is the last base of terrorists in Syria.
That has led to a series of confrontations, including deadly clashes this week that saw government shelling kill five Turkish troops.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened the Syrian government in recent days, saying the offensive violates a 2018 deal with Russia meant to prevent a broad military operation.