Turkey informs Russia of its 'clear' policy in NW Syria

Ankara has told Moscow it expects regime to withdraw in Idlib, ready to take military action in line with its preparations

Ali Murat Alhas   | 18.02.2020
Turkey informs Russia of its 'clear' policy in NW Syria


Turkey has made the necessary military preparations in northwestern Syria and told Russian counterparts it was determined to push Bashar al-Assad regime to previous boundaries, spokesman of ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party said on Tuesday.

Omer Celik said Turkey completed necessary military preparations in Syria and it would take necessary steps if the Syrian regime did not withdraw to the previous borderline set by de-escalation deal.

Celik underlined that Russia, an ally of the Syrian regime, was "clearly" informed about Turkey's stance in the region.

With 148,000 people displaced in Idlib city in the past six days, the number of displaced people in Idlib and neighboring areas since January 2019 has reached nearly 2 million, most of them taking shelter in areas close to the bordering Turkey, which already hosts over 3.6 million Syrian refugees.

Tens of thousands of people, including women and children, are in need of humanitarian assistance as the camps they take shelter in lack basic facilities. They face great difficulty meeting their food and healthcare needs.

Regime forces backed by allies Iran and Russia have been trying to capture the Aleppo countryside and parts of neighboring Idlib province, a stronghold of opposition forces in the war-torn country.

Besides a refugee crisis, their advances have also affected cooperation between Moscow and Ankara, which sent its troops to Idlib as part of the 2017 Astana and 2018 Sochi accords that sought de-escalation.

But regime forces, its allies, and militias loyal to it continue to violate the cease-fire.

So far this month, artillery fire by regime troops has martyred 12 Turkish military personnel and one civilian contractor.

While Ankara and Moscow continue their negotiations over Idlib, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week said Turkey's military would drive back Syrian forces if they did not withdraw from the northwestern region.

In response to a question on the recent coup debate in the country, Celik said: "Coup discussion is an unnecessary agenda item for Turkey. All our institutions loyal to democracy are awake."

FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.

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