Russia could no longer guarantee the safety of Turkish aircraft flying over Syria, Oleg Zhuravlev, chief of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Opposing Parties in Syria, said on March 1.
In his statement, Zhuravlev citied the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) recent decision to close the airspace over Greater Idlib as the reason. The Russian commander said that Syria was forced to take this decision.
“In such conditions, the command of the Russian taskforce cannot guarantee safety of flights by Turkish planes over Syria,” Zhuravlev said.
The SAA announced the new measure following a series of Turkish drones strikes, which inflicted catastrophic losses on its troops in Greater Idlib.
So far, the army’s air-defense systems have shot down between six to nine Turkish drones over Idlib. Yet, the strikes are still ongoing.
Turkey responded to the downing of its drones by shooting down two Syrian Su-24 warplanes. Syrian military sources said the Su-24s were shot down by Turkish F-16 warplanes, which violated Syria’s airspace twice on March 1.
The skies of Greater Idlib will likely witness more confrontation between Syrian and Turkish warplanes in the upcoming few days. Zhuravlev’s statement indicates that Russia will not try to stop the SAA from implementing its decision.