FILE PHOTO - Turkish and U.S. military vehicles are seen during a joint U.S.-Turkey patrol in a Syrian border village near Tel Abyad, Syria, September 8, 2019.Turkish Defence Ministry/Handout via REUTERS
CAIRO - 25 February 2020: Five Turkish soldiers and 11 militants were killed on Monday in raids that targeted a checkpoint located in Idlib’s Kansafra village, as reported by Sky News Arabia.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) revealed that fighter jets of the Syrian Arab Army struck the checkpoint, which is one of 12 Turkey has deployed in Syria.
In response, Turkish troops shelled concentrations of the Syrian Armed Forces in the eastern and southern countryside of Idlib. The exact sites are Sheikh Dames and Hantoneen villages western Maarat al-Numan in the southern countryside of Idlib. As a result, eight Syrian soldiers were killed.
Also, six Syrian soldiers and 10 militants were killed near Al Nayrab. Clashes between the Syrian Armed Forces and militants are ongoing on the frontline of Al-Nayrab eastern Idlib near the M4 highway connecting Damascus with Aleppo, as the former have been trying to restore the town from the latter.
For that purpose, Syrian and Russian jets struck Al-Nayrab, its surroundings and areas in Jabal al-Zawiya on Tuesday, while Turkish troops “shelled with dozens of rocket-propelled grenades regime forces' sites near Saraqeb, Dadikh, Afis and Al-Tarnabeh,” as indicated by SOHR.
On Tuesday, several strikes by the Syrian Arab Army fighter jets targeted Taftanaz military airport northeast Idlib, as it is used by Turkish forces as a base.
The observatory reported that the advances of the Syrian Armed Forces persist as, over the past 36 hours, they restored from militants the villages of Sheikh Dames, Hantoneen, Rakaya Sijneh, Tal Al Nar, Kafrsajna, Sheikh Mostafa, Al Nuqair, Satuh Al-Deir, Arinbeh, Um Sir, Maarrat Al-Sin, Jabbala, Maarrat Mater, Maar Zita, Ba’rabu, Arinbeh and Maarrat Hurmah.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov commented on Monday that the strikes on militant sites are normal given that they target Russian and Syrian sites as well as civilian utilities. He added that the de-escalation zone in Idlib has turned into an escalation zone, and that the Russian and Turkish presidents did not agree on not responding to militants’ strikes.
Russian aircrafts hit on Monday sites in Hama and Idlib in parallel to missile strikes launched by the Syrian Arab Army. Thereby, the number of Russian airstrikes in Idlib, Aleppo, and Latakia rises to 150.
On February 17, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad congratulated Aleppo residents on freeing parts of the governorate from militants, stressing that the ongoing battle to liberate Idlib and the countryside of Aleppo governorate will continue.
The Syrian Arab Army had announced capturing tens of villages and towns in the western and northwestern countryside of Aleppo. It is worth mentioning that Aleppo city was totally liberated from militants in 2016, and that the governorate is considered the industrial capital of Syria.