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Syrian Army Will Seek to Down Any Aircraft Breaching Airspace - State Media

© Sputnik / Iliya Pitalev / Go to the mediabankSyrian army artillery soldiers in Idlib province in northwestern Syria
Syrian army artillery soldiers in Idlib province in northwestern Syria - Sputnik International
Tensions escalated in Syria's Idlib province earlier this week after 36 Turkish soldiers were killed and over 30 injured in an airstrike.

The Syrian army has announced the closure of airspace over Idlib, saying it will down any aircraft that breaches its airspace.  

"The command of the armed forces declares closure of airspace for planes and other aircraft over northwestern Syria and especially the Idlib province. All planes violating our airspace will be considered hostile and shot down to prevent them from fulfilling [their] objectives," the command said in a statement as quoted by state-run SANA news agency.

In a separate development, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that media reports about the alleged downing of a Russian Su-24 above the de-escalation zone in Idlib are false.

"The information, referencing internet sites of the militants, about an alleged downing of the Russian Aerospace Forces' Su-24 plane by a man-portable air defence system in the airspace over the Idlib de-escalation zone is fake," the ministry said in a statement.

The Russian Defence Ministry added that Russian planes are performing their tasks in Syria as normal. 

According to SANA, a Turkish drone was downed over the city of Saraqib in Idlib province but no Syrian plane was damaged. 

The anti-aircraft missile system that downed the drone has been destroyed, as well as two other anti-aircraft missile systems, the Turkish Defence Ministry said. Two Syrian Su-24 planes that had been carrying out attacks on our aircraft were shot down, it added. 

Operation Spring Shield

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Sunday that Operation Spring Shield, that was launched in Idlib on 27 February is aimed against the Syrian regime, adding that Turkey is not seeking a military confrontation with Russia in Syria.

"Some 2,200 Syrian regime troops, a drone, eight helicopters, 103 tanks, tens of howitzers, three air defence systems have been neutralized," Akar said.

The operation was launched after tensions in the region escalated following the death of 36 Turkish soldiers in a Syrian airstrike in Idlib on Thursday. As the Russian military explained later, the Syrian army was targeting terrorists from the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group that operates in the province and was not informed about the presence of Turkish military there.  

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