Russian forces are seen patrolling near the Qamishli airport, in Syria’s northeastern Hasakah province, Wednesday, March 4.
READ MORE: Turkish forces shot down a Syrian warplane in Syria’s Idlib province Tuesday, in an escalation of Turkey’s military offensive against Syrian government forces. Ankara’s assault is in retaliation for the killing of 34 Turkish troops in an airstrike blamed on Damascus backed by Russian airpower.
The fighting increases the threat of confrontation between Turkish and Russian forces, a danger the Russian and Turkish presidents will be seeking to avoid Thursday when they meet. Russia has been supporting Syria’s government offensive near the Turkish border.
Turkey’s military campaign is showing little sign of abating, with a third Syrian fighter downed by the Turkish Air Force since Sunday. The Turkish Defense Ministry said Tuesday that in the past 24 hours, more than 300 Syrian soldiers were killed and more than a dozen tanks, armored vehicles and missile systems were destroyed.
The Turkish offensive is centering on Idlib, the last rebel stronghold, which Syrian forces are fighting to capture. Ankara’s ongoing offensive is expected to continue until at least Thursday, when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has talks with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow.