Two Su-24s of the Syrian regime were shot down by the Turkish military in the Idlib region, north-western Syria. A Turkish Anka-S armed drone was also destroyed by the Syrian air defense.

The two Sukhoi Su-24 attack aircraft were carrying out strikes in the region on March 1, 2020, when they were attacked and destroyed by an F-16 fighter jet of the Turkish Air Force, reports the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). The official Syrian agency Sana claims the four pilots managed to eject and were recovered.

The Sukhoi Su-24 is a variable-sweep wing two-seater and twin-engine supersonic bomber developed in the Soviet Union in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The attack followed the destruction of a TAI Anka-S Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV earlier in the day, as the Syrian regime closed down its airspace. "Any plane that violates our airspace will be treated like an enemy plane that needs to be shot down," said a military official, quoted by Sana.

Initially developed as a surveillance drone, the indigenous aircraft developed by Turkish Aerospace Industries has since been fitted with laser-guided glide bombs.

“The air defense system that shot down our armed drone and two other air defense systems were neutralized,” the Turkish Ministry of Defense wrote on Twitter.

Rising tensions in the region

The Syrian regime, supported by Russia, has been carrying out an offensive since December 2019, to retake the province of Idlib, the last rebel and jihadist stronghold in Syria, on the Turkish border. Turkey has repeatedly called for the Syrian troops to be withdrawn. 

Following the death of 34 Turkish soldiers on February 27, 2020, Ankara has launched an offensive against the Syrian military – Operation Spring Shield. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin by the end of the week.

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