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Turkey shoots down two Syrian government warplanes as tensions escalate in Idlib Province

Turkey shoots down two Syrian government warplanes as tensions escalate in Idlib Province
Copyright AP
Copyright AP
By Sofia Sanchez Manzanaro with AP
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Two of Syrian warplanes were shot down by Turkish forces inside northwest Syria, the country's official news agency SANA reported on Sunday. Earlier that day, pro-government Syrian forces downed a Turkish drone.


Two Syrian warplanes were shot down by Turkish forces in northwest Syria after Syrian forces downed a Turkish drone.

Pro-government Syrian forces warned that any aircraft that penetrates their airspace will be considered hostile, according to Syrian military-run media.

The announcement came after two days of Turkish drone attacks that Syria said killed 50 government forces and allies.

These confrontations have added to rising tensions between Turkey and Russia, which support opposing sides in the Syrian civil war.

Turkey's defence minister Hulusi Akar said that the strikes were part of a military operation against the Russian-backed Syrian regime after dozens of Turkish troops were killed on Thursday.

But Turkey does not have the intention to clash with Russia, the minister said, aiming to confront Syrian government forces rather than Russian troops.

"We intend to stop the regime's massacres and prevent migration," he said during a televised speech.

Following these events, the EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell announced on Sunday an extraordinary meeting of the foreign affairs council would take place next week.

"The ongoing renewed fighting in and around Idlib represents a serious threat to international peace and security," Borell said on a statement.

He added that the EU "needs to redouble efforts" to address the humanitarian crisis with all the means at its disposal.

The meeting has also been called by the request of Greece, as the country blocked thousands of migrants trying to enter from the Turkish border over the past 24 hours. The United Nations said Sunday that at least 13,000 people were gathered on Turkey's land border with Greece.

Greek authorities fired tear gas and stun grenades to prevent repeated attempts by a crowd of more than 4,000 people at the border crossing in Kastanies.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Saturday that the country opened its western borders to migrants and refugees hoping to head into the European Union.

Fahrettin Altun, the communications director for Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the fighting in Idlib was directly linked to Turkey's decision to open the gates for refugees to Europe.

"Europe and others must take robust action to address this monumental challenge," said Altun.

"We can't be expected to do this on our own."

The military escalation in around the city of Idlib has also prompted the largest wave of displacement in the nine-year Syrian war.

According to UN figures, the conflict has displaced more than 900,000 civilians in the region.

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