Aircraft downed over Idlib, north Syria, as regime closes airspace: Reports

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A fighter jet has been downed over northwest Syria, near Idlib, according to Al Arabiya sources.

As of 13:40 p.m. there were conflicting reports on whether the jet was Turkish or Syrian. Turkey's Anadolu news agency claimed the jet was a Syrian government jet.


Shortly after the incident, the Syrian army closed airspace to aircraft and drones over northwest Syria, according to Syrian state media quoted by Reuters.

The army issued a statement saying it would shoot down any aircraft that entered the airspace, according to state media.

Amid the conflicting reports, video circulated online reportedly showing a drone being downed.

Syrian state media denied a government plane was brought down on Sunday and said the army had downed a Turkish drone over the town of Saraqib in the Idlib region of northwest Syria, Reuters reported.

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Tensions rising between Turkey and Syria in Idlib

Idlib is home to some of the last territory controlled by anti-government opposition forces in Syria.

Turkey supports the opposition in the area and has deployed troops to help opposition faces resist the Syrian regime's ongoing assault on their positions.

Tensions spiked recently as Turkish soldiers stationed in Idlib were killed by government airstrikes.

On Thursday, Turkey reported that 22 soldiers had been killed a Syrian regime airstrike in northwest Syria. On Friday, the Turkish government upped the figure to 33.

Map shows regime-held towns sourrounding the strategic town of Saraqib in rebel-held Idlib province. (Al Arabiya)
Map shows regime-held towns sourrounding the strategic town of Saraqib in rebel-held Idlib province. (Al Arabiya)

Humanitarian crisis looms

The Syrian regime's assault has worsened an already difficult humanitarian situation in northwest Syria.

Since December 1, 2019, more than 875,000 people have been displaced by the combined air and ground offensive in Idlib.

Many civilians are being displaced for a second time, having already been moved to Idlib from elsewhere in the country as the regime retook territory through bombardment and siege.

“People are facing a desperate situation,” said Julien Delozanne, head of the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) mission for Syria. “Attacks are now taking place in areas that were previously considered to be safe. The people fleeing north are being squeezed into a territory that is getting smaller and smaller, between the frontline to the east and the closed Turkish border to the west.”

On Thursday, MSF announced it was upping its response in the area as displaced people find themselves in a "critical situation" pushed into a small area along the Turkish border.

The camps for displaced people are overcrowded and water and sanitation facilities are inadequate for the large numbers of people, raising the risk of water-related diseases, according to the MSF.

- Developing.

- With Reuters.

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