The situation in northwest Syria has reached dangerous levels with the Syrian, Russian, and Turkish armies on a collision course. The United Nations is warning that the deteriorating situation could result in a “bloodbath” unless the sides can agree to a ceasefire.
Airstrikes by the Russians, in support of the Syrian government of Bashar Assad, on Thursday killed two Turkish soldiers and wounded five more around Idlib. The Turks responded with heavy strikes against government troops that killed more than 50.
The Turkish army has lost 15 soldiers in just the last three weeks, as the Syrians, backed by Russian airpower, are increasingly aggressive in trying to stamp out the last bit of rebel resistance in Idlib province.
Although Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has cozied up to Russia in the past several years and grown increasingly hostile to the United States, he has asked the U.S. to deploy Patriot Missile batteries to protect Turkish troops from air attacks. That is a major shift with the government of Turkey and Russia now on a collision course. The Russian Defense Ministry released a statement that their SU-24 attack aircraft carried out airstrikes to stop a move by Syrian rebels that were backed by Turkish artillery.