Russia cannot guarantee Turkey the safe location of its aircraft in Syrian airspace. This was announced during a briefing by the head of the Russian Center for the Reconciliation of the warring parties in the Syrian Arab Republic, Rear Admiral Oleg Zhuravlev.

According to him, the SAR government was forced to announce the closure of airspace over the province of Idlib in connection with the sharply aggravated situation in it.

“Under these conditions, the command of the Russian group of forces cannot guarantee the safety of Turkish aviation flights in the sky of Syria,” Zhuravlev said.

On Sunday, March 1, the closure of airspace was reported by SANA, citing the command of the Syrian army. It was noted that all objects that violated airspace would be perceived as hostile and go astray.

A prerequisite for this decision was the fact that Turkish fighters shot down two aircraft of the government of the SAR, performing a combat mission against terrorist groups in the Idlib region, the agency reported, citing the country's military leadership. As reported in the material, both pilots managed to eject.

In this case, initially "information on the militants' Internet resources" appeared that there was supposedly a Su-24 aircraft of the Russian Air Force from MANPADS. The head of the CPVS emphasized that the information about the defeat of Russian aircraft "in the airspace above the Idlib de-escalation zone is not true."

In addition, a source in RIA Novosti in the Syrian Defense Ministry said that the republic’s air defense systems destroyed six Turkish drones, which attacked the positions of government forces, supporting militants.

Also on the eve of a telephone conversation between the Foreign Ministers of the Russian Federation and Turkey Sergey Lavrov and Mevlut Cavusoglu. The foreign ministers discussed preparations for the meeting between Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which is tentatively scheduled for March 5 or 6.

  • Presidents of Turkey and Russia Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin
  • © Sergei Chirikov / Pool via REUTERS

According to the press secretary of the Russian leader Dmitry Peskov, this will be a “difficult meeting”, but the fact that the presidents of the two countries are focused on resolving the situation in Idlib is important. Along with this, an official representative of the Kremlin recalled that only Russia is acting in the region at the request of the legitimate Syrian leadership. Thus, he commented on the statement of the Turkish president, who urged Putin to leave Damascus “face to face” with Ankara.

“All other military forces of other countries are in Syria, contrary to the norms and principles of international law,” Peskov said.

Recall that the situation in Syria escalated on February 27 after an attempt by militants of the Khayyat Tahrir al-Sham * terrorist group to attack the positions of the SAR troops in the Idlib de-escalation zone. In response to the air strikes killed 33 Turkish troops. However, they should not have been there, according to data transmitted by Ankara to the Russian side, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

“Immediately after receiving information about the injured Turkish military personnel, the Russian side took comprehensive measures for a complete ceasefire by the Syrian troops and ensured the safe evacuation of dead and wounded Turkish military personnel in Turkey,” the Russian Defense Ministry noted.

After that, the Turkish side called the incident "an attack on NATO" and switched to ground and air strikes on the positions of the Syrian troops. In addition, the republic’s authorities decided to open the border for refugees, citing the fact that the European Union is not fulfilling its agreements. Only in a day it was overcome by more than 47 thousand people.

In connection with the incident, EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, called for an extraordinary meeting of the EU Council. According to him, the situation in Idlib poses a “serious threat to peace and security” of the entire international community. Along with this, concerns about the emergence of a new wave of refugees and migrants were expressed by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Minister of Defense Annegret Crump-Karrenbauer.

* “Hayat Tahrir al-Sham” (“Jabhat Fath al-Sham”, “Front al-Nusra”, “Jabhat al-Nusra”) - the organization was recognized as terrorist by the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation dated December 29, 2014.