Turkish forces fire on Russian jets in Idlib - Russian state media
(Updates with Russian and Turkish delegations meeting in Ankara)
Turkish military forces have opened fire on Russian warplanes in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province, Russian state media said on Thursday, marking the first report on a direct confrontation between the two countries involved on opposite sides of the 8-year-old conflict.
"The rebels and Turkish specialists are actively using portable air defence systems," said Israeli newspaper Haaretz, citing the Rossiya 24 TV channel. It added that pro-Damascus planes were had to take counter-measures after carrying out bombing runs on rebel positions in Idlib.
The Turkish government did not immediately release a statement on the alleged Russian news report.
The broadcast came after reports on Tuesday said Turkish-backed Syrian rebels recaptured the town of Nairab, considered a gateway to the strategic town of Saraqeb, which was seized by the Syrian army earlier this month.
Turkey has threatened to launch a full-scale operation in Idlib, asking Russia to abide by the terms of a 2018 deal and ensure the withdrawal of Syrian forces from a demilitarised zone Turkey and Russia established to avoid what Turkey says is a possible humanitarian disaster in the rebel-held enclave, which is home to 3 million people.
Russian-backed Syrian government forces launched an offensive in Idlib in April, which has intensified since January. At least 18 Turkish soldiers have been killed by Syrian shelling since the beginning of February in Idlib, while 1 million people have fled to the Turkish border to escape the clashes.
Russian and Turkish delegations met in Ankara on Thursday to negotiate a resolution to the violent flare-up in the Syrian province. The Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the meeting had ended, but did not provide any information about whether or not a compromise had been reached on Idlib.