Syrian regime forces must withdraw from the area that was designated as a de-escalation zone in Idlib province until the end of this month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has warned, signaling a new military operation if the threat against Turkey’s military posts in the area continues.
“If the Syrian regime does not retreat from Turkish observation posts in Idlib in February, Turkey will be obliged to do so itself,” Erdoğan said, addressing his party’s parliamentary group meeting on Feb. 5.
Erdoğan made this statement after he held a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on late Feb. 4 during which the two leaders discussed the Syrian regime's attack against a Turkish convoy that claimed the lives of eight Turks, seven of whom were servicemen.
“The attack on our soldiers the day before yesterday was a turning point in Syria for Turkey. It can no longer continue this way,” he said. “Turkey’s air and land forces will move freely in all operation areas [in Syria] and in Idlib, and they will conduct operations if needed,” he added amid speculation of fresh Turkish moves in northern Syria.
The new era in Idlib means a complete overhaul of Turkey’s security approach on the Syrian border and inside Syria, Erdoğan stressed, warning that any and every attack on Turkish soldiers or its allies will face retaliation, without any warning, regardless of the source of the attack.
Erdoğan recalled that Turkey, Russia and Iran had agreed to create a de-escalation zone in Idlib in 2018 by setting up observation posts under the Sochi agreement.
Since Mid-December, hundreds of civilians have been killed and more than 500,000 have been displaced due to the deadly offensive carried out by Assad regime forces and militiamen, backed by the Russian fighter jets.
Source: Hurriyet Daily.