Operation Spring Shield

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Operation Spring Shield
Part of Turkish involvement in the Syrian Civil War and Northwestern Syria offensive (December 2019–March 2020)
Date27 February – 6 March 2020
(1 week and 1 day)
Result Ceasefire[2][3][4]
 Turkey  Syria
InfoboxHez.PNG Hezbollah[1]
Commanders and leaders
Turkey Hulusi Akar
(Minister of National Defense)
Turkey Gen. Yaşar Güler
(Chief of the Turkish General Staff)
Turkey Lt. Gen Sinan Yayla[5]
(2nd Army commander)
Syria Suheil al-Hassan
Syria Maher al-Assad
Brig. Gen. Burhan Rahmun 
(commander of 124 Brigade of Republican Guard)[6]
Brig. Gen. Ismael Ali [7]
Col. Mazar Farwati [7]
Units involved

Turkish Armed Forces

Syrian Armed Forces



8,350[10]–20,000[11] unknown
Casualties and losses

Per Turkey:[12][13][14]
Turkey 41 killed
81 wounded
(including Balyun Airstrikes)


Per SOHR:[18]
Syria 197 killed


Destroyed or captured[19]

Per Turkey:[22]

Syria 3,159 killed wounded and captured

Operation Spring Shield (Turkish: Bahar Kalkanı Harekâtı) was a cross-border military operation conducted by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) against the Syrian Armed Forces in the Idlib District of northwest Syria,[23] which began on 27 February 2020 in response to the Balyun airstrikes.[24][25] Turkish National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said that the purpose of the operation had been within the framework of the Astana talks, to ensure a ceasefire agreement in the Second Northern Syria Buffer Zone and to prevent migration from Idlib towards the Turkish border. On 5 March, Turkey and Russia signed a ceasefire agreement in Moscow.[26]


On 27 February 2020, during the peak of Operation Dawn of Idlib 2, the Syrian Air Force and allegedly the Russian Air force conducted airstrikes against Turkish Army positions in Balyun, Idlib Governorate. The strikes resulted in the deaths of 33 or 34 Turkish soldiers,[27][12] and the number of wounded reported ranged from 36 to 60.[28][29] The following day, Russia denied it had carried out airstrikes in the area and stated it made attempts to ensure the Syrian military ceased firing to allow the evacuation of the Turkish troops, and claimed the Turkish forces should not have been in the area, where "counter-terror operations" were taking place, and that Turkey had failed to notify it about the soldiers' presence in advance. Turkey claimed that Russia was aware of Turkish troop locations, the two countries having regularly liaised about this.[30]

Operation timeline

27-28 February 2020

After the air attack in Balyun, Turkey formalized its military intervention and announced the beginning of Operation Spring Shield, aimed at halting the advance of the Syrian government forces on Syrian rebels in Idlib and drive them back to pre-offensive frontlines.[31] On 28 February, the Turkish Ministry of National Defense claimed that the Turkish armed forces had responded to the airstrikes and "neutralized" 329 Syrian government troops and destroyed five helicopters, 23 tanks, 10 armored vehicles 23 artillery and howitzers, five ammunition trucks, one SA-17 and one SA-22 air defense systems, three ammunition depots, two inventory depots and one headquarter building belonging to the Syrian government,[32] which could not be corroborated.[33] A Syrian military official acknowledged their armored and technical vehicles were heavily targeted and that their northwestern Syria arsenal suffered significant destruction.[34] Overnight retaliatory Syrian government attacks killed a Turkish soldier and injured six more.[35]

1 March 2020

Two Russian-made Su-24 jets of the Syrian airforce that attacked and shot down a TAI Anka drone[36] were in turn shot down by Turkish Air Force F-16s.[37] All four Syrian pilots safely ejected.Syrian and Turkish forces confirmed the downing.[38]

2 March 2020

A Turkish drone was shot down by Syrian Air Defense near Saraqib.[39][40][41]

3 March 2020

On 3 March, Syrian forces launched artillery strikes on Turkish forces located at Taftanaz airport, killing one Turkish soldier and leaving three wounded.[42] A Turkish fighter jet downed a Syrian Aero L-39 Albatros over Idlib; the pilot of the aircraft managed to eject.[43][44] Rebel forces stated that they had found the pilot's dead body,[45] In turn, a Bayraktar TB1 drone was shot down by the Syrian Arab Army in Kifer Dael in western countryside of the Aleppo.[46][47]

On the ground, the Syrian Army secured Saraqib[48][49] and captured several surrounding villages after pushing back rebel forces supported by Turkish artillery and air power. The previous day's clashes led to the deaths of 75 rebel and 40 pro-government fighters, according to SOHR and Al-Masdar, while Turkish airstrikes on government targets had reduced significantly amidst a further government advance toward the town of Afis.[50][51] Syrian fire left four Turkish soldiers killed and seven wounded in Al-Tarnaba and Al-Mastouma camp.[52]

4 March 2020

Turkish sources claimed that Suheil al-Hassan was targeted and wounded by drone strikes near Saraqib.[53][54]

A Turkish UAV Bayraktar TB1 was shot down by Syrian Arab Army air defenses in the evening in the Idlib Governorate.[55][56]

5 March 2020

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that during the SAA offensive in Idlib 1,449 Syrian soldiers and 1,469 Syrian rebels were killed, in the same period 73 Turkish soldiers were killed as well. Of the Pro-government forces killed; 170 Soldiers and 27 other allied foreign fighters were killed by Turkish drone and artillery attacks during Operation Spring Shield.[57][58]


On 5 March 2020, the presidents of Turkey and Russia, Erdoğan and Putin, met in Moscow for high-level talks.[59] According to the statements made by the Turkish and Russian leaders following their one-on-one meeting, a ceasefire in the area of Idlib was to come into force from 00:00 hrs on 6 March. The terms of the ceasefire included a secure corridor 6 kilometers either side of the M4 highway, to be patrolled jointly by Russia and Turkey beginning on 15 March.[60]

See also


  1. ^ Israel learned from Hezbollah's defeat at the hands of Turkey, Jerusalem Post, May 21, 2020. Accessed May 22, 2020.
  2. ^ Tuvan Gumrukcu (2020-03-06). "Ceasefire in Syria's Idlib comes at a cost for Turkey's Erdogan". Reuters.
  3. ^ Andrew Roth (2020-03-05). "Russia and Turkey agree ceasefire in Syria's Idlib province". Moscow: The Guardian.
  4. ^ "Syria war: Idlib ceasefire between Russia and Turkey begins". BBC. 2020-03-06.
  5. ^ "Bahar Kalkanı Harekatı'nı yöneten komutan Sinan Yayla kimdir nerelidir?" (in Turkish). Yeni Akit. 2020-03-02.
  6. ^ "Syrian regime commander reportedly killed in Turkish drone strike in Aleppo". Rudaw. 28 February 2020. Retrieved 29 February 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Turkish combat drones kill 3 Assad regime generals in Idlib". Daily Sabah. 1 March 2020. Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  8. ^ "Son dakika haberi: SİHA korkusu sardı! Rejimin elindeki asker sayısı azalınca, böyle getirildiler..." Sabah. 5 March 2020. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  9. ^ "Cumhurbaşkanlığı İletişim Başkanlığı açıkladı: Güncel haritalar ve grafikler ile Suriye'de yaşanan son gelişmeler". Takvim. 6 March 2020. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  10. ^ 150 Turkish military vehicles enter Syria as calm prevails the “de-escalation” zone
  11. ^ Ceasefire in Syria's Idlib comes at a cost for Turkey's Erdogan
  12. ^ a b "Erdoğan: İdlib'de 59 şehit verdik". www.sozcu.com.tr.
  13. ^ One Turkish soldier killed, two wounded in Syria's Idlib - ministry, Turkey says one soldier killed in Syrian government shelling in Idlib, One Turkish soldier killed and nine wounded in Syria's Idlib: ministry
  14. ^ Two Turkish soldiers killed, six wounded in Syria's Idlib - ministry, Turkish defence ministry says two soldiers died in Syria's Idlib
  15. ^ 2 Akinci GZPT[1][2]
    1 M113A2 [3]
  16. ^ 1 Bayraktar TB2 (March 2020) [4][5]
    1 TAI Anka-S (1 March)[6][7]
    1 Bayraktar Tactical UAS (3 March)[8][9]
    1 Bayraktar Tactical UAS (4 March) [10]
  17. ^ Services (March 6, 2020). "Turkish UAVs played leading role in Idlib battle". Janes.
  18. ^ Military escalation in “De-escalation zone” 51 days on: 1,200,000 people displaced…2,640 killed…276 areas fall to regime forces
  19. ^ Turkey Hits Back Against Syria In Idlib
  20. ^ "بعد إسقاطها لمروحيتين الشهر الفائت.. القوات التركية تسقط طائرتين حربيتين تابعة للنظام السوري في أجواء محافظة إدلب". SOHR. Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  21. ^ "Turkish F-16 fighter jets shoot down L-39 aircraft over Idlib". March 3, 2020.
  22. ^ Milli Savunma Bakanlığı: İdlib harekatında 3138 rejim unsuru etkisiz hale getirildi
    Turkey neutralizes 3,000+ regime elements in Idlib, Syria
    Turkish drones neutralize 21 Syrian regime troops
  23. ^ "Turkey launches Operation Spring Shield against regime aggression in Syria". Istanbul: Daily Sabah. 2020-03-01.
  24. ^ Amberin Zaman (2020-03-01). "Turkey launches Operation Spring Shield against Syrian forces". Al-Monitor.
  25. ^ Joe Truzman (2020-03-05). "Turkey's Operation "Spring Shield" delivers blow to Hezbollah". Longwarjournal.org.
  26. ^ "Rusya'dan İdlib açıklaması: Ateşkes düzenlemesine genel olarak uyuluyor" (in Turkish). Ankara: Milliyet. 2020-03-12.
  27. ^ Syrian, Turkish armies engage in new deadly clashes in Idlib
    Putin and Erdoğan in last-ditch talks to secure Syria ceasefire
    At least 15 displaced Syrians killed in Idlib air attack
  28. ^ "33 Turkish soldiers killed, 36 wounded in Syria's Idlib - live blog". Ahval.
  29. ^ Gurcan, Metin (February 28, 2020). "Deciphering Turkey's darkest night in Syria". Al-Monitor.
  30. ^ "The Strike: Did Russia Knowingly Target Turkish Troops?". POLYGRAPH.info. 2020-02-28. Retrieved 2020-03-09.
  31. ^ "Turkey launches Operation Spring Shield". Hürriyet Daily News. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  32. ^ "Bakan Akar: 200'ü aşkın rejim hedefi ağır ateş altına alındı". NTV. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  33. ^ "33 Turkish soldiers killed in Syrian air raid in Idlib". www.aljazeera.com.
  34. ^ Desk, News (February 28, 2020). "Turkish military carries out massive attack against Syrian Army".
  35. ^ 45 regime forces killed by bombing drones and war planes and Turkish artillery shelling ... and surface-to-surface missiles targeting the countryside of Aleppo
  36. ^ Services, Compiled from Wire (March 1, 2020). "Assad regime downs Turkish drone in Syria after announcing airspace closure". Daily Sabah.
  37. ^ "بعد إسقاطها لمروحيتين الشهر الفائت.. القوات التركية تسقط طائرتين حربيتين تابعة للنظام السوري في أجواء محافظة إدلب". SOHR. Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  38. ^ Turkey's Erdogan hopes
  39. ^ Desk, News (March 2, 2020). "Syrian Army shoots down Turkish drone over east Idlib".
  40. ^ "Wreckage of Turkish combat drone uncovered In southeast Idlib (pics)". March 19, 2020.
  41. ^ "ANNA-NEWS|Новости|Сирия|Донбасс". Telegram.
  42. ^ Dead and wounded in the ranks of the Turkish forces with artillery shelling of the regime forces in Idlib countryside (In Arabic), SOHR
  43. ^ "Syrian pilot killed as Turkey downs warplane: monitor". France 24. 2020-03-03. Retrieved 2020-03-12.
  44. ^ Karnozov, Vladimir (2020-03-02). "Fighter-bombers and Anka UAVs Downed as Turkey and Syria Exchange Blows". Aviation International News. Retrieved 2020-03-09.
  45. ^ "بعد إسقاط تركيا لطائرته.. الفصائل تعثر على جثة الطيار في منطقة جبل الزاوية". SOHR (in Arabic). 3 March 2020.
  46. ^ "Two Turkish Air Force Drone Reportedly Shot Down By Syrian Air Defense Over Idlib".
  47. ^ "Syrian Army takes down Turkish drone in Idlib". TASS. Retrieved 2020-03-03.
  48. ^ Syria army retakes Saraqib city in Idlib from opposition
  49. ^ Turkey’s Erdogan hopes to broker Syria truce in Moscow
  50. ^ "115 regime soldiers, rebels and jihadists killed in 24 hours, while regime forces recapture Saraqeb and surrounding villages". SOHR. 3 March 2020.
  51. ^ Desk, News (2020-03-03). "Syrian Army attempts to advance in eastern Idlib after seizing Saraqib city". AMN - Al-Masdar News | المصدر نيوز. Retrieved 2020-03-03.
  52. ^ Turkish forces resume bombarding regime positions, while regime forces attempt to advance further northwest of Saraqeb, SOHR
  53. ^ "Esad'ın katliamcı generali Süheyl Hasan, SİHA ile vuruldu". A Haber. 5 March 2020. Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  54. ^ "Son dakika: İdlib'de SİHA'lardan nokta atışı! Rejim komutanı Süheyl El Hasan SİHA ile vuruldu". Takvim. 5 March 2020. Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  55. ^ "Images of one of the Turkish drones shot down by Syrian Arab Army units in Idleb". Syrian Arab News Agency. 4 March 2020. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  56. ^ "Syrian Army shoots down Turkish drone in Idlib, 10th in 3 days: photo". Al-Masdar News. 4 March 2020. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  57. ^ "خلال أقل من 50 يوم.. مليون و150 ألف نازح.. و2640 شخص استشهدوا وقضوا وقتلوا في حلب وحماة وإدلب.. و276 منطقة باتت بيد "النظام السوري"".
  58. ^ 383 soldiers and 357 rebels killed (19 Dec.-23 Jan.),[11][12] 1,129 rebels and 1,098 soldiers killed (15 Jan.-5 March),[13] 9 rebels and 6 soldiers killed (6 March),[14] 1 rebel killed (10 March) [15] total of 1,496 rebels and 1,487 pro-government soldiers reported killed. 38 of the soldiers were non-Syrian.[16][17]
  59. ^ Marcus, Jonathan (2020-03-05). "How Russia's Putin became the go-to man on Syria". BBC News. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  60. ^ TRTWorld (2020-03-07). "Joint Turkish-Russian patrols to begin on March 15 – latest updates". Joint Turkish-Russian patrols to begin on March 15 – latest updates. Retrieved 2020-03-12.