Turkey destroys scores of Syrian army targets

Turkey destroyed Syrian army air defense systems, wiped out more than 100 tanks and downed two planes, the country said on Sunday (March 1).

The attack was their response to last week's airstrike that killed 33 Turkish soldiers.

Tensions in Syria have escalated between the Turkey-backed rebels and Russian-backed Syrian government forces in the country's northwest Idlib province - increasing fears that the two regional powers will be brought into direct confrontation.

Turkey's Defense Minister said they have no intention of facing Russia but dubbed the mission a success.

(SOUNDBITE) (Turkish) TURKISH DEFENSE MINISTER HULUSI AKAR SAYING:

"Dear friends, as you know, the Operation Spring Shield that was launched following the atrocious attack on February 27 continues with success."

Diplomatic efforts by Ankara and Moscow to defuse tensions have fallen short so far and hopes of a ceasefire in Syria's last major rebel stronghold after nine years of war are slowly fading.

Interfax news agency reported on Sunday that the Kremlin hopes Presidents Putin and Erdogan will agree to hold talks in Moscow later this week.