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Russian Air Force Strikes Repel Militant Attack on Syrian Government Army in Idlib: Russian Defense Ministry

The militants, supported by Turkey, had shelled the Syrian Army’s positions in the region. However, the Turkish forces stopped the artillery barrage after Moscow contacted Ankara, the ministry added. The militants had launched a “massive offensive” southeast of the city of Idlib, using many armored vehicles, the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria said on Thursday, adding that it was Turkish artillery that helped them breach the Syrian Army’s defenses in some areas. Aerial footage published by the Russian Defense Ministry shows a Turkish self-propelled howitzer battery shelling the Syrian Army positions. Turkish battery of self-propelled gun units (SPGs) targets fire support groups during militant offensive in Idlib  Russian Defense Ministry At the request of Damascus, Russian Su-24 strike aircraft hit the advancing armed groups, helping Syrian forces to repel the offensive, destroying a tank and six infantry-fighting vehicles, among other hardware. The reconciliation center also said that the Turkish shelling left four Syrian soldiers injured. Moscow also once again called on Ankara to cease its support for terrorists in Idlib, and stop handing over weapons to them. Meanwhile, Turkey’s Defense Ministry said that two Turkish soldiers were killed and five others injured in the air strikes. The incident comes amid a spike in tensions between Damascus and Ankara. Turkey has opposed the Syrian Army's advances in the battle against extremists and militants entrenched in Idlib province for quite some time. On Wednesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey would not “leave Idlib to the Assad regime” and threatened to launch an incursion into the province. Turkey had already reinforced its outposts in the area, which is the last remaining major militant stronghold on the Syrian territory. Russia repeatedly warned Turkey against attacking the Syrian Army and has continued diplomatic efforts to ease tensions around Idlib.

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