News ID: 265590
Published: 0438 GMT February 13, 2020

Turkey says will use ‘any measure’ against ‘radicals’ in Syria’s Idlib province

Turkey says will use ‘any measure’ against ‘radicals’ in Syria’s Idlib province

Turkey has threatened to use “force” against “radicals” in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib, which militant groups have been using as a launch pad for attacks against Syrian forces and civilians.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar made the comment on Thursday, stressing that the Turkish military would use “force … in Idlib against those who do not abide by the ceasefire, including the radicals.”

Turkey would take “any form of measure” against “radicals”, the Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency further quoted Akar as saying, Presstv Reported.

Back in September 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan reached an agreement, known as the Sochi agreement, to create a de-militarization zone in Idlib province, whose large parts are controlled by foreign-backed militants.

According to the Sochi agreement, “radical” groups or the ones identified as Takfiri terrorist outfits, were required to withdraw from the buffer zone.

However, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham Takfiri terrorists and other militants have been launching attacks on army and civilian targets from the buffer zone, where Turkish observation posts have been established to monitor the enforcement of the ceasefire there.

The increasing attacks prompted Damascus last August to begin liberating areas from the grip of terrorists in the province. Syria also started its full-scale offensive in December to flush all militant groups out of Idlib, the last militant bastion in a nine-year war.

Turkey claims that 14 members of its forces in Idlib have been killed in shelling by Syria’s government troops, vowing to severely retaliate.

On Wednesday, Erdogan accused Russia, Syria’s key ally in the fight against terror groups, of “constantly attacking the civilian people, carrying out massacres, spilling blood.”

A few hours later, the Russian Defense Ministry strongly rejected Erdogan’s allegations

“Statements by Turkish representatives about alleged attacks by Russian forces on civilians in the Idlib de-escalation zone do not correspond with reality," the ministry said in a statement.

“The real reason for the crisis in the Idlib de-escalation zone unfortunately is the non-fulfillment by our Turkish colleagues of their undertakings to separate moderate opposition militants from terrorists,” it added.

Under the bilateral agreements between Moscow and Ankara, the latter was tasked to separate the so-called “moderate opposition” militants from the internationally recognized terrorists. Turkey’s failure to do so is believed to be one of the main reasons behind the ongoing escalation in Idlib.

The Russian statement said the presence of Turkish troops and armor in Idlib is further deteriorating the situation there, as is the transport of weapons and ammunition across the common border between Syria and Turkey.

Moscow took issue with Ankara after the Turkish president threatened that his military would rain fire on Syrian forces by air or ground anywhere in the Arab country if another Turkish trooper was hurt.

Turkey has established 12 observation posts in Idlib, of which three have reportedly been encircled by Syrian army troops.

Erdogan has given the Syrian government until the end of February to push back its forces outside the military locations.

Over the past four years, the Turkish military has staged at least two unauthorized invasions into northern Syria to push back against Kurdish militants, which Ankara accuses of harboring subversive intentions against the Turkish administration.

Syria has denounced the invasions, saying it would respond in kind if the need arose.

 
 
   
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