Turkey, Politics, Middle East

Turkey to keep military observation posts in Idlib, Syria

Following deadly Assad regime attack, Turkish president says strategic initiatives are being made with Russia

Dilara Hamit   | 04.02.2020
Turkey to keep military observation posts in Idlib, Syria

ANKARA  

Following an Assad regime attack on Turkish troops, Turkey will keep its military observation posts in Idlib, Syria, along with necessary fortifications, because they play a vital role, said the president on Tuesday. 

The deadly attack was very clear violation of the Idlib agreement and so will have consequences for the Assad regime, Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters en route back to Turkey from an official trip to Ukraine.

But he also said in wake of the attack, there is no need for a conflict or contradictions with Russia, and there are serious strategic initiatives taking place.

Erdogan said Turkey's anti-terrorist operations in northern Syria will not stop and will continue with determination.

"It is not enough to appreciate Turkey, we want the international community to be responsible and we want to see concrete steps," Erdogan said.

He said that a new civilian massacre and migrant exodus in Idlib cannot be allowed, therefore Turkish and Russian foreign ministers have held talks today.

Erdogan stressed tent cities will not provide sufficient shelter in the cold weather and so there was need to build durable brick shelters for the refugees.

He reiterated that the international community had not fulfiled promises made since 2014 to Turkey regarding funds for the refugees.

The EU had pledged a €6-billion ($6.6-billion) aid to improve living conditions of Syrian refugees in Turkey, but only €2.22 billion ($2.45 billion) were disbursed as of this June, according to Ankara.

Erdogan said he conveyed the issue to EU officials but had low expectations of a result due to the reactions. 

Monday’s Assad regime attack in Idlib, northwestern Syria, martyred seven Turkish soldiers and one civilian contractor working with the Turkish military. Thirteen other individuals were injured but are in good condition, according to Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar.

In retaliation for the deadly attack, Turkey struck over 50 targets and killed 76 Syrian soldiers, according to Akar.
Idlib has been a stronghold of opposition and anti-government armed groups since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

It is currently home to some four million civilians, including hundreds of thousands displaced in recent years by regime forces from throughout the war-weary country.

Turkey and Russia agreed in September 2018 to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone where acts of aggression are expressly prohibited. The Syrian regime and its allies, however, have consistently broken the terms of the cease-fire – including a fresh cease-fire from Jan. 12 – launching frequent attacks inside the zone and killing at least 1,300 civilians since the agreement.

Turkey has complained of the carnage and continued attacks and urged Russia to rein in its ally Assad to stop the bloodshed.

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