Turkish warplanes to not fly into Syria after threat by regime
Sevil Erkuş - ANKARATurkey’s Air Forces have been unable to carry out aerial campaigns in Syria as part of the Euphrates Shield operation since Oct. 22, as Syria has activated its air defense systems over the flight of Turkish warplanes into Syrian airspace.
The Turkish Air Forces launched their last airstrike in Syria on Oct. 22, targeting Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) positions. Since then, Turkey has not launched further strikes as Syria’s Russian-made air defense system was activated to cover the region under the Euphrates Shield operation, a Turkish official told the Hürriyet Daily News on condition of anonymity. Coalition forces have also decreased the number of their flights in northern Syria, the official said.
On Oct. 20, the Syrian military warned that it would bring down any Turkish warplanes entering Syrian airspace, in response to airstrikes carried out by Turkey overnight in Maarrat Umm Hawsh in northern Aleppo.
Turkish air strikes hit a group from the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the military wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which was moving toward al-Bab in northern Aleppo on Oct. 19, which the Syrian statement called an act of “blatant aggression.”
“Any attempt to once again breach Syrian airspace by Turkish war planes will be dealt with and they will be brought down by all means available,” the Syrian army general command said in a statement. The presence of Turkish troops on Syrian soil was a “dangerous escalation and flagrant breach of Syria’s sovereignty,” it said.
On Oct. 21 Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressed concern over Turkey’s airstrikes in Syria. “We are very alarmed about what is happening. As I understand it, we are talking about attacks on areas inhabited by the Kurds,” Lavrov said.
The Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army’s (FSA) advance toward Al-Bab has faltered due to the lack of Turkish airstrikes. The FSA has only been able to move 5 kilometers in the last three days, sources said on Oct. 28.
A suspected Syrian army helicopter dropped barrel bombs on Turkish-backed rebels on Oct. 25, killing two rebels, the Turkish military has stated.
A helicopter “assessed to belong to regime forces” bombed the rebels in the Jabal Naif village near Akhtarin, a town 5 kilometers southeast of Dabiq, the Turkish military said in a statement on Oct. 26.
Two FSA rebels were killed and five were wounded, the statement added.
Turkey launched the Euphrates Shield operation in northern Syria in late August, using its armor and air power to help FSA fighters take territory near the border held by ISIL.
Turkish leaders say the Euphrates Shield operation will continue to move until it reaches the al-Bab region north of Aleppo.
The operation also targets the YPG, which Turkey regards as a terror organization on the grounds of its links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).