Units of the Syrian Army and its allies have continued their advance on positions of Turkish-led forces in Greater Idlib followiing the second liberation of Saraqib.
In eastern Idlib, Syrian troops retook the villages of Jawbas, Tarnaba, Dadikh and Kafr Battikh west of Saraqib. By this move, they technically secured the M5 highway that, if hostilities end, would allow the Syrian military to restore movement along it. In southern Idlib, the Syrian Army pushed the Turkish Army and al-Qaeda members back from Kafr Nabul and retook the villages of Amqiyah and Fulayfil.
According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (a pro-militant propaganda outlet), over 100 members of Idlib armed groups were killed in the recent clashes.
Following recapture of Saraqib, SAA took control of Tarnabah, Jawbas, Dadikh and Kafr Batikh. Russian MPs also entered and redeployed within the city. M5 secured once again pic.twitter.com/BgEcaE0j1K
— Hassan Ridha (@sayed_ridha) March 3, 2020
In the course of the advance, the Syrian military shot down another Turkish combat drone near Saraqib. Another Turkish drone was downed east of Khan Al-Subil.
— H.K ?? (@Ibra_Joudeh) March 3, 2020
At the same time, a L-39 warplane of the Syrian Air Force was downed by the Turkish military over Idlib. The warplane crashed near Maarat al-Numan. One pilot died in the incident. The second one survived.
شاهد بالفيديو .. وحدات خاصة من الجيش السوري تنفذ عملية بطولية داخل مواقع الجماعات الإرهابية لمسافة 2 كم و تنقذ طيار سوري هبط بالمظلة بعد استهداف طائرته صباح اليوم pic.twitter.com/kZACbxZrHD
— Yusha Yuseef (@MIG29_) March 3, 2020
The Turkish Defense Ministry claimed that March 3 that during the past 24 hours Turkish-led forces had destroyed a warplane, a UAV, 6 battle tanks, 5 howitzers and artillery pieces, 2 air defense systems, 3 armored combat vehicles, 5 armed pickups, 6 military vehicles and an ammunition depot belonging to Syrian forces. The defense ministry also claimed that 327 Syrian soldiers were “neutralized” during the same period. Taking into account that the Turkish-provided number of “neutralized” Syrian soldiers was 2,557, the Turkish-claimed number of “neutralized” Syrian soliders since the start of Operation Piece Spring just reached 2,884.
Bahar Kalkanı Harekâtı gece boyunca başarıyla sürdürüldü. Son 24 saatte; 1 uçak, 1 İHA, 6 tank, 5 obüs/ÇNRA, 2 hava savunma füze sistemi, 3 zırhlı muharebe aracı, 5 silahlı pikap, 6 askeri araç ve 1 mühimmat deposu imha edildi, 327 Rejim askeri de etkisiz hale getirildi.
— T.C. Millî Savunma Bakanlığı (@tcsavunma) March 3, 2020
The Turkish campaign in Idlib is apparently going in a direction that the Turkish leadership does not like. The Turkish Army and its proxies failed to deliver a devastating blow to the Syrian Army and lost most of the gains made during first days of the operation.
Turkish propaganda sources claim that Turkish F-16 fighter jets launch air-to-air missiles at Syrian warplanes from the Turkish side of the border:
The Syrian Regime Aero #L39 Albatross Targeted by a Turkish F-16
Un avion du régime syrien du type L-39 visés par d'un F-16 turc
ستهدفت مقاتلة اف-١٦ التركي مقاتلة نظام آيرو إل-٩٣ ألباتروس pic.twitter.com/vVmRQIfBS8
— Clash Report (@clashreport) March 3, 2020
Meanwhile, Turkish supporters are claiming that Turkey will deploy Hisar air defense systems to the Syrian province of Idlib in order to put an end to Syrian and Russian strikes on al-Qaeda terrorists there. Right now, these claims look like a wishful thinking.
— Cemal Acar (@Acemal71) March 3, 2020
Some recent combat footage from the area of Saraqib: