Turkey said its military operation “Spring Shield” carried out last year between February 27 and March 05 averted a major humanitarian tragedy in Idlib.
The Turkish Ministry of Defense said that the operation aimed to prevent Syrian regime forces from expanding further in the area while ensuring the security of the Turkish troops.
The Ministry issued a statement via its Twitter account, on the occasion of the first anniversary of the military operation, indicating that it also prevented a wave of migration towards the Turkish border, and maintained the security of displaced citizens, ensuring their safe and voluntary return. The statement added that the Spring Shield, which was carried out by land and air forces, was successfully completed on March 5, 2020, and resulted in the neutralization of 3,473 members of the Syrian regime forces and various military equipment.
Turkey launched operation Spring Shield in Idlib after 36 of its soldiers were killed in an attack by the regime forces on one of the military points in the region, on February 27, 2020. it opened its borders with Greece allowing Syrian refugees to enter Europe in an attempt to pressure an EU intervention to stop the exodus of Syrians towards the Turkish borders.
The operation ended after an agreement to cease fire in Idlib was reached between Turkish Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. The agreement also included conducting joint patrols of the two countries' forces on the Aleppo-Latakia (M4) road. Meanwhile, regime forces renewed their attacks on the “de-escalation zone” northwest of the country, targeting Safohen, al-Fatira, Kansafra, Flifel, al-Bara, Benin, and Ruwayha in the southern sector of Idlib countryside, Ankawi, Qulaydin, and the perimeter of al-Ziyara in Sahl al-Ghab, north-west of Hama, while Russian reconnaissance drones were seen flying over the area.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported an exchange of heavy fire between regime forces and opposition factions on the frontlines of Sahl al-Ghab and Jabal al-Zawiyah. In addition, the Turkish-backed Levant Front withdrew a number of their military units in Afrin in northwestern Aleppo countryside, however, factions remained in a state of alert.
The Observatory reported a high military alert among Turkish-backed factions, and military reinforcement of Levant Front, Ahrar al-Sham, and Ahrar al-Sharqiya in the area of Janderas, against the groups of Sultan Murad, al-Amshat, and al-Hamza Division, whose forces were also mobilized in Deir Sawan in Afrin countryside, amid preparations for clashes, concurring with tension in the region.