Syria deploys new air defense systems in north
BEIRUT – Reuters
The Syrian army has deployed new air defenses and anti-aircraft missiles to frontlines in the Aleppo and Idlib areas, a commander in the military alliance fighting in support of President Bashar al-Assad said on Feb. 5.
“They cover the air space of the Syrian north,” the commander told Reuters, describing the deployment as a “message to everyone.”
The air defenses had been sent to frontlines with militants in rural areas of Aleppo and Idlib.
The regime move came after one Turkish soldier was killed at an observation point in Idlib, where Russia and Turkey cooperate to establish a de-escalation zone as part of the Astana agreement.
Five other Turkish soldiers were slightly injured in the same mortar attack.
Turkish warplanes have been mounting air strikes against the northwestern province of Afrin as part of a major offensive targeting the People’s Protection Units, which Ankara views as a terrorist group for its links to the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK).
Ahead of the Turkey’s “Operation Olive Branch,” the Syrian government had threatened to shoot down any Turkish warplanes in Syrian air space.
The U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) also operates in northern Syria, though some distance from Aleppo city in territory stretching from the city of Manbij to the Iraqi border.