QAMINAS: Tensions escalated on Tuesday between Syria’s regime and Turkey as a Syrian military helicopter was shot down and Ankara warned of a “heavy price” for any attacks on its forces.
The new flare-up, a day after regime shelling killed five Turkish troops, came as government forces battling rebels in northwestern Syria took full control of a key highway linking the country’s four largest cities.
The advance marked another step in President Bashar al Assad’s campaign to retake Syria’s last rebel-held pocket, where nearly 700,000 civilians have fled violence since December in the largest exodus since the start of the war.
Shortly after the M5 motorway was recaptured, a rocket attack downed a Syrian regime helicopter in Idlib province, killing both pilots, a war monitor said.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the helicopter was hit by a rocket fired by Turkish forces, though Ankara did not claim responsibility.
DAMASCUS RETAKES KEY ROAD
Erdogan said Turkish troops would continue to respond to Syrian regime attacks.
“The more they attack… our soldiers, they will pay a very, very heavy price,” he told a televised ceremony in Ankara. Ankara said on Monday it had “neutralised” 101 Syria regime troops in response to the deadly artillery attack on its position in Idlib, but that information could not be verified independently. — AFP