The General Command of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) warned on February 22 that any violation of the country’s airspace will be dealt with as a “foreign military aggression.”
In an official statement, the army’s command said that orders have been given to the Syrian Arab Air Force (SyAAF) and the Syrian Arab Air Defense Forces (SyAADF) to repel any such aggression.
“Any aircraft that violates the Syrian airspace will be treated as a hostile military target that will not be allowed to fly over our airspace, it will be tracked at the moment of its discovery and we will work to destroy it once it penetrates our airspace,” the statement reads.
The SAA’s warning appears to be directed against Turkey, whose forces are amassing in the northwestern Syrian region of Greater Idlib.
Two days ago, Turkey and its proxies, including al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) launched a joint attack on SAA positions in southern Idlib. The army, supported by the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS), repelled the attack within a few hours.
Despite sustaining catastrophic losses in their attack, Turkey and its proxies are now apparently preparing to launch an even larger attack. This time, however, Ankara may attempt to use its air force.
The Turkish Air Force (TAF) operates dozens of advanced f-16 fighter jets. However, the SyAADF maintains a tight grip over northwest Syria thanks to a network of air-defense systems around the region, including at least one S-300PMU2 battery deployed in Hama. The SyAAF could also provide support with its upgraded MiG-29SM warplanes.
A Turkish aerial attack on SAA positions in northwest Syria could provide Ankara’s proxies with the support they need to advance again. However, such a move will for sure come with a very high risk. A battle in the sky could ignite a full-scale war between Turkey and Syria.