Amnesty International on May 11 said it has documented 18 attacks in northwest Syria carried out by regime and Russian forces over the past year that amounted to "war crimes".
Russia-backed regime forces have since late April 2019 waged two deadly military campaigns against Syria's last major rebel bastion of Idlib, which has become home for some three million people.
The Turkish military launched Operation Spring Shield in Idlib in response to the Assad regime attack on Feb. 27, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on March 1.
The defense minister noted that the only goal of the operation is self-defense against the Assad regime soldiers and units that attack Turkish troops in the area.
A Syrian opposition group reported on Feb. 14 that they downed a Syrian regime helicopter in a "de-escalation zone" in northwest Syria.
The helicopter was hit directly while flying over the western Aleppo province, in a rural area of Aleppo that falls within the de-escalation zone of the neighboring province of Idlib.
The U.S. special envoy for Syria visited Turkey on Feb. 11 to re-evaluate the recent developments in the region.
Speaking to reporters at Ankara's Esenboğa International Airport, James Jeffrey said Turkey, as a NATO ally, encountered a great threat in Idlib, northwestern Syria, coming from the Assad regime and Russia.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Feb. 11 vowed that the Syrian regime, which attacked Turkish troops in northwestern Syria's Idlib province, would pay a "heavy price."
The president also said he would announce a series of new steps on Feb. 12 that Turkey would take against Bashar al-Assad's regime over attacks on Turkish soldiers in Idlib.