Turkey has claimed to have shot down two Russian-made Syrian Su-34 fighter jets besides destroying three of their air defense systems using F-16 jets, as a retaliatory attack against Syrian downing of six Turkish combat drones.
“A Syrian air defense system that lowered one of our SİHAs (drones), and two other air defense systems were destroyed. Two Su-24 jets of the regime that attacked our planes have also been shot down,” the Ministry of Defense of Turkey said in a statement.
While the official statement says Ankara downed a Syrian air defense system that had earlier shot down “one” of its drones, a source in the Syrian defense ministry confirmed to TASS that six Turkish drones were instead destroyed.
"On March 1, Syrian air defense systems destroyed six combat drones of the Turkish army over the Idlib de-escalation zone," the source said, adding that Turkish F-16 jets downed two Syrian warplanes.
"Turkish F-16 intruded Syrian airspace twice. The jets attacked and downed two planes of the Syrian Air Forces over Idlib. The pilots managed to eject safely," the defense ministry official explained.
On Friday, Turkey targeted and destroyed a Syrian Army Pantsir missile system using one of its drones, possibly the Bayraktar TB2 or the Anka-S.
Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said that the Turkish forces destroyed eight helicopters, 103 tanks, 72 howitzers, rocket launchers, a drone and six air defence systems in the last four days. He dubbed Turkey's operation, the fourth one in Syria in four years, "Operation Spring Shield.”
Anadolu Agency said the Turkish military had targeted and rendered unusable Nayrab airport, west of Aleppo city.
The Idlib demilitarization zone (DMZ) was an agreement reached by Turkey and Russia to create a buffer zone in Syria’s Idlib province. Alleging Syria to have broken the terms of the agreement by launching frequent attacks in the region, Turkey has called for an immediate halt to the attacks and for a cease-fire.