March 1 (UPI) — The Turkish military launched an attack on Syria on Sunday in response to an attack by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Turkish troops in Idlib province.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said he is commanding the operation known as Operation Spring Shield from Turkey’s southern Hatay province on the border of Syria, Turkey’s Anadolu Agency reported.
Akar added that one drone, eight helicopters, 103 tanks, 19 armored personnel carriers, 72 cannons/howitzers/multiple rocket launchers, three air-defense systems, 15 anti-tanks/mortars, 56 armored vehicles, nine ammunition deposits and 1,212 regime soldiers and elements had been neutralized by the operation.
Sunday’s attack comes after the Syrian regime airstrike killed 34 Turkish soldiers after Turkish-backed Syrian rebels took control of a key town in northwestern Idlib province.
Akar added that Turkey’s only target would be Assad regime soldiers and other military elements in Idlib.
“Operation Spring Shield, which was launched following the heinous attack [on Turkish troops] on Feb. 27 is successfully being carried out,” he said.
Syria’s military closed the airspace over the northwestern region of the country, particularly Idlib, in response to the attack, the Syrian Arab News Agency reported.
“Turkish regime’s forces are continuing to carry out hostile acts against our armed forces which are operating in Idlib province and its surroundings whether through targeting our soldiers who are facing terrorists directly or, through providing all forms of support to the armed organizations which are on the list of terrorism according to the international law,” the military said.