ANKARA, March 1. /TASS/. Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar announced on Sunday that Operation Spring Shield was launched in Syria’s Idlib on February 27.
"Operation Spring Shield is successfully continuing that was launched on February 27 in response to a mean attack on the Turkish military. At the moment, one drone, eight helicopters, 103 tanks, 72 howitzers, three air defense systems and 2,212 troops of the regime [of Syrian President Bashar Assad] have been eliminated," Akar said, according to NTV report.
Akar also stressed that this operation was not aimed at confrontation with Russia. "Our goal is to prevent crimes committed by the regime of [legitimate Syrian President] Bashar Assad, eliminating radicals and preventing [the wave of] migration," the minister claimed.
Tensions in Syria’s Idlib region escalated overnight to February 28 after militants had launched a large-scale offensive, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. In the early hours of Friday, the Syrian government forces conducted strikes on their positions, which, as Ankara claims, killed 36 Turkish soldiers. In response, Turkey’s Air Force conducted strikes on the Syrian troops, later specifying that more than 200 targets had been hit.
Turkey has carried out three military operations in Syria: Euphrates Shield, Olive Branch and Peace Spring. They resulted in creating a buffer security zone between the border towns of Azaz and Jarabulus, occupying Afrin and taking under control the territory to the east of the Euphrates River.