Turkey shot down a Syrian fighter jet in Syria’s Idlib province Tuesday, marking the third such incident in as many days, as steady clashes between the two national armies appeared to signal a new stage in the nine-year-old war, The Associated Press reported.
The Turkish Defense Ministry announced on Twitter that the Turkish military downed an L-39 warplane belonging to Syrian government forces. Syrian state-run television reported that Turkish forces targeted a warplane as it was carrying out operations against “terrorist groups” in the rebel-held Idlib region. It was not immediately clear what happened to the plane’s crew.
Turkey has sent thousands of troops into Idlib to support the opposition fighters holed up there but hasn’t been able to roll back the government’s advance.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he hopes to broker a cease-fire in Syria later this week when he meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
But the Russian-backed offensive into the country’s last rebel-held area has led to more and more frequent clashes between the Syrian and Turkish armies that have killed dozens on both sides. It has also threatened a collapse in Turkish cooperation with Moscow, a key backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
A Turkish soldier was killed and another wounded Monday night, Turkey’s Defense Ministry said, raising to 58 the number of Turkish losses this month in clashes with Russian-backed Syrian forces. The death toll includes 36 Turkish soldiers killed Thursday in a single airstrike.