Turkey is amassing a large force in Syria’s Idlib and arming al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which controls a vast part of the northwestern governorate, a Russian military source revealed on February 15.
According to the source, that was quoted by several Russian news agencies, the Turkish Armed Forces deployed 70 battle tanks, 200 armored vehicles and 80 howitzers in Idlib. A large part of these equipment is allegedly being handed over to HTS terrorists.
The source also revealed that Ankara is arming the militants in Idlib with U.S.-made man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADs). The source was likely referring to the FIM-92 Stinger.
“It is of particular concern that Ankara had provided the militants in the Idlib de-escalation zone with Turkish military uniforms,” the source added, according to RT.
The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has destroyed 20 Turkish-supplied vehicles, so far, according to the source. At least three such vehicles were indeed destroyed by the army during a failed Turkish-led attack on its positions a day earlier.
Ankara’s ever increasing support to militants in Idlib, including those affiliated with al-Qaeda, is causing a unprecedented tension in northwest Syria. In spite of this support, the Syrian military continues its advance in the region.