Turkish Army Preparing for Military Operation in Idlib
Turkey is reportedly preparing to launch a military attack in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, at a time when Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and senior Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) officers inspected the military units operating near the Syrian border.
Akar arrived in the southeastern province of Sanliurfa, accompanied by Chief of Staff Gen. Yasar Guler, Commander of Land Forces Gen. Umit Dundar, Chief of Air Staff Gen. Hasan Kucukaktuz and Commander of Naval Forces Admiral Adnan Ozbal.
The Turkish officers inspected the military units along the Syrian border, and they also held online and face-to-face meetings with the commanders of the units.
The Yeni Safak newspaper, which is close to the Turkish government, said Friday that Turkish forces continue to enhance their positions in Idlib as part of Operation Spring Shield, which started last February following the killing of 33 Turkish soldiers in airstrikes launched by the Syrian regime.
It said that while the Turkish Defense Ministry has not issued any official statement to announce the end of the Operation, Turkish forces were seen deploying in Idlib their most sophisticated air defense systems.
Late last month, the Turkish army deployed US-made medium-range surface-to-air MIM-23 Hawk missiles in al-Mastoumah camp, which is located five kilometers south of Idlib city.
The newspaper said the Turkish forces are in full alert and ready to confront any attack launched by the regime of Bashar Assad.
“The Turkish army is enhancing its military positions north of the Aleppo-Latakia highway (M4) and the Aleppo-Damascus highway (M5),” the newspaper said.
It quoted military expert Turan Oguz as saying that since a ceasefire was agreed in Idlib on March 6, Turkey has sent 4,000 military vehicles and more than 10,000 soldiers to the area.
“This is a large number and it shows that Ankara continues to enhance its positions and does not rely on the ceasefire agreement, reached with Moscow last March,” Oguz said.
He said the defense system that Turkey sent to Idlib should deter the Syrian regime against a possible attack.