Turkey Shoots Down Syrian L-39 Aircraft

Turkey has shot down a Syrian Arab Air Force L-39 Albatros light attack jet over Maarat al-Numa in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province, the Turkish Defense Ministry said Tuesday.

The regime aircraft was reportedly intercepted by a Turkish Air Force F-16 fighter jet using its air-to-air missiles (AAMs).

According to the Britain-based war monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the pilot of the L-39 jet was killed in the incident. The monitor said it was not clear if the pilot was killed during the downing or afterwards by rebel fighters, and that his body was mutilated.

Turkey has earlier also downed two Syrian Arab Air Force Su-24 “Fencer” combat aircraft over Idlib. According to the Turkish Defense Ministry, the jets were downed when they tried to attack Turkish planes.

Turkey on Sunday launched a military offensive, codenamed Operation Spring Shield, into northwest Syria to push back the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The operation was initiated after at least 34 Turkish soldiers were killed and dozens injured in an Assad regime airstrike in Idlib.

The Turkish Defense Ministry has also announced that one aircraft, one unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), six tanks, five howitzers, two air defense missile systems, three armored combat vehicles, five armed pickups, six military vehicles and one ammunition depot of the regime forces were destroyed in the past 24 hours. It added that 327 Regime soldiers were also killed in the operation.

The Aero L-39 Albatros is a high-performance jet trainer/light attack aircraft developed in Czechoslovakia by Aero Vodochody.

The Syrian Arab Air Force has operated a number of armed L-39ZA light attack variants. Since the early stages of the Syrian civil war, the Syrian Air Force’s L-39 aircraft have been routinely deployed in counter-insurgency operations against various rebel ground forces. A number of these aircraft have also been shot down by ground fire.

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