Image Source: syriahr.com
Recent Turkish air raids have destroyed dozens of Syrian government tanks, armored personnel carriers, and air defense systems sharply halting Syria’s advance towards Idlib.
Allegedly launched in retaliation for an attack that killed 34 Turkish soldiers, that resulted in at least 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in an air strike by Syrian government forces in northwestern Idlib province as Turkey vowed “to respond in kind” with attacks on “all” their positions.
The Turkish air offensive over Syria did not use manned aircraft but fleets of unmanned aerial vehicles, more commonly known as UAVs or drones. Military drones have been used for decades as ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) and assassination tools, but this is the first major large-scale offensive by one military against another military in an operational-level conflict.
Ahead of a much-anticipated summit later in the week between the presidents of Turkey and Russia, the 2 main power brokers in Syria, Russian secretary of state Sergey Lavrov again laid the blame for the escalation squarely on Turkey. Keeping up the pressure on the battlefield, Turkey’s military downed a warplane belonging to Syrian government forces the third time they need done so since Sunday.
Responding sharply to an air raid on a Turkish mechanized unit near Idlib city, the Turkish military deployed dozens of drones in a coordinated series of attacks on Syrian vehicles and positions. Not only the Barayktar TB-2s were used but also the newer UCAV (or unmanned combat aerial vehicle). The heavier, armed, satellite-linked ANKA-S saw its operational debut within the battle over Idlib.
While these weapons are utilized in innovative ways over Idlib, they are not invulnerable. They are relatively slow moving and can be shot down by a well-armed opponent as they have been in Syria, when three ANKA-S drones were downed by Syrian air defense and shoulder-launched weapons.
The Syrian military said Turkish forces targeted a warplane with a missile because it was completing operations against terrorist groups within the rebel-held Idlib region, causing it to crash northwest of the town of Maaret al-Numan. The fate of the crew was not clear.
Tensions in Idlib rose following the Syrian strike that killed the 33 Turkish soldiers. Turkey responded with drone attacks and shelling that killed quite 90 Syrian troops and allied gunmen.