Turkey is shooting Syrian warplanes down

Erdogan and Putin will try to deescalate the issue at the Moscow meeting

Turkey has brought down two Syrian fighters over the Syrian province of Idlib. A Syrian military airport near Aleppo has also been bombed. That happened after Syria threatened to shoot every foreign aircraft above the northwest of the country.

The Syrian state news agency has confirmed that two combat aircraft have been shot down. The pilots would have brought themselves to safety.

According to the Turkish defense minister Akar, the Syrian army has lost 8 helicopters, 103 tanks, 72 pieces of artillery and a drone in the last four days. More than 2,000 Syrian soldiers are said to have been killed. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which operates from Great Britain, comes to a considerably smaller number. It says that 74 soldiers and militia members died on the Syrian side in that period. Turkey also says it lost 55 soldiers in Idlib in February.

The Turkish army has stepped up its activities in Syria, following the bombing of Turkish soldiers in Idlib on Thursday. At least 33 Turkish soldiers were killed and dozens injured in an attack by Syrian or Russian planes.

There are thousands of Turkish soldiers in Idlib who have to stop the advance of the Syrian army. Syria is trying to reclaim the province from rebels. Turkey wants to prevent this, because even more Syrian displaced persons will flee to Turkey.

The escalation threatens a confrontation between Turkey and Russia, which supports Syrian President Assad. Ankara and Moscow are trying to reduce tensions over Idlib, but negotiations are difficult. Possibly the presidents Erdogan and Putin meet each other in Moscow on Thursday.

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