The Syrian regime said it will shoot down any Turkish fighter jet conducting attacks in Syria, raising the specter of undesired fallout if Turkey moves ahead with its offensive against Afrin, a Kurdish-held town near the Turkish border.
“We warn the Turkish leadership that in the event of initiating hostilities in the area of Afrin, this will be considered an act of aggression by the Turkish army on the sovereignty of the Syrian Arab Republic’s territories… ” Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said on Thursday.
The statement came at a time when Turkey amassed large columns of tanks, artillery units and elite forces for an impending military assault against Afrin to uproot the U.S.-backed Kurdish militia.
Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin, however, dismissed such a threat. He said Turkey would take every necessary countermeasure.
Regarding the operation against Afrin, he said Turkey will decide on it after deliberations with Russia.
Currently, Turkish military chief Gen. Hulusi Akar and Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MIT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan are holding talks with their Russian counterparts to discuss the draft plan of Turkey, Mr. Kalin told reporters in Ankara.