Turkey launched a massive operation in Syria targeting government troops after the recent attack on Turkish troops last week left at least 34 Turkish soldiers dead, the country’s defense chief said on Sunday.
“Operation Spring Shield, which was launched following the heinous attack (on Turkish soldiers) on Feb. 27 is successfully being carried out,” Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said of this new operation.
Akar claimed that the Turkish forces had taken out a drone, eight helicopters, 103 tanks, 19 armored personnel carriers, 72 cannons/howitzers/multiple rocket launchers, three air-defense systems, 15 anti-tanks/mortars, 56 armored vehicles, and nine ammunition depots. He added that 1,212 regime soldiers and elements “have been neutralized” thus far. There hasn’t been any confirmation of those numbers yet.
Akar made it clear that Turkey’s only target during the operation would be regime soldiers and elements in Idlib under Turkey’s right to self-defense. The Turks are not targeting Russian forces and President Erdogan has urged Russian President Putin not to interfere with the ongoing operations and to respect the Sochi agreement signed in September of 2018, which was supposed to prevent any acts of aggression in Idlib.