Turkey says it fulfilled responsibilities in Idlib in line with agreements

Turkey's Vice President Fuat Oktay says Turkey was determined to stop Syrian regime advances in Idlib and Ankara had clearly conveyed its position on Idlib to Moscow.

Turkey says it fulfilled responsibilities in Idlib in line with agreements
Turkey's Vice President Fuat Oktay repeat warning that Ankara would use military power to push back Syrian regime forces if they did not withdraw from Idlib by the end of February. (AA)

Turkey has fulfilled its responsibilities in the northwestern Syrian region of Idlib in line with its de-escalation agreements with Russia and Iran, Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Saturday, after violence spiked in the region during the past few weeks.

Turkey and Russia, which back opposing sides in the conflict, agreed in 2018 to set up a de-escalation zone in the region. 

But a Syrian regime offensive has disrupted Ankara and Moscow's fragile cooperation after 13 Turkish soldiers were killed by Syrian attacks in the past two weeks.

Turkey's defence ministry said that the Turkish military had hit 54 regime targets eliminating 76 regime soldiers in response.

Ankara has said it will use military power to drive back the Syrian forces unless they withdraw by the end of February.

"If any harm comes to our soldiers in observation posts [in Idlib] or anywhere [in Syria], I declare from there that we will hit regime forces everywhere regardless of the Sochi deal," Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said this week.

"We will do this by any means necessary, by air or ground, without hesitating, without allowing for any stalling," he added. 

Oktay told broadcaster NTV that Turkey was determined to stop Syrian regime advances in Idlib and Ankara had clearly conveyed its position on Idlib to Moscow during the talks.

"We cannot overlook the cruelty happening in our neighbour," Oktay said, adding that Turkey, which hosts more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees, cannot handle a new migrant wave from Idlib where hundreds of thousands have been displaced.

"Turkey has fulfilled its responsibilities in Idlib. Some of our observation posts have now fallen into areas controlled by the (Syrian) regime," he said, referring to Turkey's military observation posts established in Idlib under the 2018 deal.

Turkish Military Personnel, Idlib, SyriaImage shows the deployment of Turkish military personnel and equipment to Syria's Idlib province. (Twitter @ragipsoylu)
 

Meanwhile, Ankara has continued its deployments to Syria's Idlib, sending a large contingent of commandos and military vehicles to the war-torn country's conflict zone.

Turkey Army, Idlib, Syria

The photo shows the deployment of Turkish commandos and vehicles to Syria's Idlib province. (Twitter @ragipsoylu)

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar earlier said Turkey would use force against rebel groups violating a January 12 ceasefire in Idlib and said Ankara was sending reinforcements to control Idlib.

A Turkish delegation will visit Russia next week to hold talks on clashes in Idlib, Syria, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Saturday.

"The Turkish delegation on Monday will attend talks in Moscow [on Idlib, Syria]," Cavusoglu told reporters after a meeting with his German counterpart Heiko Maas on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

Regime forces backed by Russia and Iran have recently made gains in their campaign to eliminate the last opposition bastion after the country's nine-year war.

The Intensifying regime offensive in Syria's northwest since early December has forced around 800,000 people to escape their homes in northwestern Syria, the United Nations says.

Half of the Idlib region's residents have been displaced throughout the war, with many living in precarious shelters in the countryside along the Turkish border.

Ankara – which already hosts more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees on its soil – fears the latest fighting will lead to another mass influx.

Syria's civil war has killed more than 400,000 people since it started in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-regime protests.

News Source:- Reuters