Turkey has supplied armed groups occupying Syria’s Idlib with anti-aircraft missiles, the Russian news agency Sputnik claimed in a new report released on June 14.
“Turkey’s support for armed the groups has begun to take a new turn recently, it is characterized by providing them with advanced weaponry, such as TOW and Kornet [anti-tank guided] missiles, in addition to man-portable air-defense systems [MANPADs],” Bassel Shartuh, Sputnik’s reporter in Hama, said in the report.
According to Sputnik, one of the Turkish-supplied MANPADs was used by the militants to hit a Su-22M4 fighter bomber of the Syrian Arab Air Force (SyAAF) over northern Hama last week. Shartuh said that the warplane survived the hit thanks to the pilot’s “competence and skill.”
Several other agencies, including Reuters, reported that Turkey had resumed its military support for the militants. However, it remains unclear if Ankara indeed supplied them with anti-aircraft missiles.
Idlib militants are known for possessing several types of MANPADs, including Soviet-made 9K38 Igla and Chinese-made FN-6 missiles.
Supplying such advanced weapons to Idlib militants would pose a serious threat to the SyAAF, the Russian Aerospace Forces and most importantly to the civilian aviation in the region. If Sputnik’s claims are true, this step could lead to a major setback in Russian-Turkish relations.
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