27 Feb 2020 15:10

Russian, Syrian combat planes dodging MANPADS fire in Idlib - TV

MOSCOW. Feb 27 (Interfax) - Militants and Turkish specialists in Idlib are trying to shoot down Russian and Syrian combat planes, the Rossiya-24 (VGTRK) television channel said on Thursday.

"Aviation is literally saving Syrian servicemen - their own and Russian [combat planes]. Planes from the Syrian Air Force and the Aerospace Forces of Russia have been stopping the militants time and time again. At the same time, it's also dangerous in the sky over Idlib right now - militants and Turkish specialists are actively using man-portable air defense systems [MANPADS]," the TV channel's footage from the site in the Idlib de-escalation area said.

The Russian and Syrian air forces are broadly using heat flares as protection from the systems' fire, while the Turkish military is actively attacking positions of Syrian government forces, the TV channel said.

"Turkish artillery is constantly pounding the Syrian army's positions here. Moreover, Turkish tanks are entering the positions of militants and terrorists from the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group [banned in Russia] and are delivering strikes on houses in the village," the TV channel said.

In the village of Jubas, the site of some of the heaviest fighting, the Syrian army has lost "a large amount of armored hardware and artillery weapons" due to gunfire from Turkish forces, it said.

On February 15, a Russian military-diplomatic source said that militants in the Idlib de-escalation area had received U.S. MANPADS complexes from Turkey.

On February 20, the Arab news website Al-Masdar said that Turkish-backed militants in Idlib had attempted to shoot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 bomber with the help of MANPADS. The website also published a video showing the Su-24 dodging a missile flying in its direction.