The Syrian air force is ready to shoot down Turkish aircraft incurring into the country’s airspace, the Deputy Foreign Minister of the Syrian Arab Republic (SAR) Faisal Mekdad said, Kommersant reported on January 19.
Mekdad said in his statement that any activity of the Turkish military near the city of Afrin in northwestern Syria will be considered “as an act of aggression on the sovereignty of the Syrian Arab Republic”.
On January 16, Haberturk, a Turkish daily newspaper, citing exclusive sources, reported that Turkey was to begin the land phase of the military operation in the city of Afrin in northwestern Syria with an airstrike against targets among the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). According to the newspaper, Ankara has already selected 149 targets for the strike. They include both stationary targets and vehicles.
Also, on January 13, 2018, at a press conference of the ruling Justice and Development Party, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced his readiness to start military operations, “If the terrorists in Afrin do not surrender, we will destroy them”. The Turkish leader unambiguously expressed his readiness for decisive actions, “They will see what we’ll do in about a week. In the Euphrates Shield operation we killed 3 thousand ISIL (organization banned in Russia ― Rossa Primavera Information Agency) terrorists, and we will kill 3 thousand more if we need to. Our allies that support terrorist organizations in Syria should ask themselves a question. The US sent 4,900 trucks of weapons to PYD/YPG terrorists in Syria. This is not what allies do”.
The statement made by the SAR’s Foreign Ministry is a reaction to a possible violation of Syria’s territorial integrity. The Syrian Foreign Ministry made similar statements during the Turkey’s Euphrates Shield operation. Then, however, the direct contact between the Turkish-backed “moderate” militants and al-Assad’s army did not escalate into hostilities despite the fact that pro-Turkish forces actually invaded SAR territory. Russia’s influence on both sides of the conflict played a role in that situation.
Now, if the Syrian air defense turns out to be insufficient to “enforce a no-fly zone” over Afrin, Russia will apparently help its ally again. The possibility of such help, which would be unwelcome for Turkey, could well be a subject of discussion during the visit of Turkey’s intelligence head Hakan Fidan and the Chief of Staff Hulusi Akar to Moscow
Source: Rossa Primavera News Agency