Erdogan and Putin set to meet on Thursday as Turkey reinforces Idlib positions and Syria announces closure of airspace

ANKARA / DAMASCUS – Yesterday, the Office of the Turkish Presidency announced that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet in Moscow on Thursday to discuss the escalating tension between the two parties in Syria.

The meeting comes after a Turkish military operation striking out at the Assad regime following the deaths of 34 Turkish soldiers in an airstrike in Idlib, Syria last week. Turkey blamed the deaths on Damascus, but international observers believe it was more likely Russian aircraft that conducted the strike.

Ankara announced the death of another of its soldiers on Monday. The death, reportedly caused by Syrian Arab Army (SAA) shelling, raised the total number of Turkish deaths in recent weeks to 55.

Amid the escalating tensions and increased fighting in Idlib, more Turkish reinforcements passed through the Kafrlossen border crossing, heading towards Idlib. The military convoy reportedly consisted 55 vehicles of various types, including tanks, artillery, and personnel carriers.

This latest convoy brought the number of Turkish trucks and military vehicles in Idlib to more than 3,130, with the number of Turkish soldiers over 8,100.

In response to the Turkish operations, the Syrian military announced the closure of airspace over the northwestern region of the country, stating that any aircraft penetrating Syrian airspace will be treated as an enemy aircraft and will be shot down.

The Russian Ministry of Defense has shunned any responsibility for the targeting of any Turkish aircraft flying over Idlib, reported TASS news agency. Moscow cannot guarantee the safety of Turkish fighters flying over Syria following Damascus’ announcement that it has closed its airspace, said the Russian official.

This warning came after Turkey shot down two Syrian Su-24s over Idlib on Sunday and bombed a military airport out of the front lines, in a major escalation of its military operations.