Turkey has repeatedly accused the Syrian Army of attacking its forces in the Idlib outposts over the last few months as well as violating the Sochi agreements that established the demilitarised zone in the Syrian province.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated the time Ankara has given Damascus to pull its troops away from Turkish observation posts in Syria’s Idlib is coming to an end, adding that Turkey will not take the “smallest step back” in the province. Instead Erdogan vowed that Ankara’s forces will push the Syrian Army beyond the perimeter of those posts by the end of February.
“We would like to remind those who try to corner Turkey by forcing their own agenda onto it, that we are not guests in this region, but its masters”, Erdogan said.
The Turkish president hasn’t ruled out “active involvement” as a mean to achieve the country’s goals in Idlib. Erdogan added, however, that he asked his Russian colleague, Vladimir Putin to try and convince Syrian President Bashar Assad to stop the Idlib offensive.
Erdogan also claimed that Ankara will create the conditions needed for the safe return of Syrians to their homes in the province.
Turkish-Syrian Tensions Escalate in Idlib
The Turkish president’s remarks come amid media reports that Ankara was redeploying tanks from across the country towards the border with Syria. The report by Demirören News Agency indicated that armoured vehicles were destined to be sent to Turkish observation posts in Idlib.
The reports were preceded by an ongoing escalation in the Syrian province with Turkish forces claiming to be hit by Syrian Army attacks on several occasions and sustaining losses. Ankara claimed to have responded to these attacks killing and injuring dozens of Syrian soldiers.
Turkey accuses the Syrian government and Russia of violating the Sochi agreements that established Idlib’s demilitarised zone. Damascus insists that its offensive was a response to continuing attacks from militants in the province and accused Ankara of aggression.