This is not the time for appeasement between Turkey and Syria. While clashes have opposed forces from Ankara and Damascus to Idleb in recent weeks, Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened Wednesday to quickly launch a military offensive in this region of north-western Syria.
Summing up again the Syrian regime to withdraw from certain positions in Idleb by the end of February, the Turkish president said that these were the “last warnings”. “We can come up one night without warning. To put it more explicitly, an operation in Idleb is imminent, “he said.
These threats come after discussions between Ankara and Moscow, godfather of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, have so far failed to reduce tensions in the Idleb region. “Unfortunately, neither the discussions in our country and in Russia nor the negotiations on the ground have allowed us to achieve the result we want,” lamented Erdogan.
The warning of Russia
“We are very far from the point we want to reach, it’s a fact. But discussions (with the Russians) will continue, “he added. Moscow also immediately warned Turkey against any military intervention targeting the regime’s forces. “If it is an operation against the legitimate power of the Syrian Republic and the armed forces of the Syrian republic, it will, without doubt, be the worst option,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitri. Peskov, during a telephone briefing with journalists.
Damascus forces, supported by the Russian air force, have been working hard in recent weeks to retake this last rebel and jihadist stronghold, an offensive that has caused the exodus of more than 900,000 civilians fleeing the fighting. The country, at war since 2011, has never experienced such an exodus over such a short period of time. In total, the Syrian conflict has forced millions into exile and killed more than 380,000 people.
Make Idleb a “safe” region, “whatever the cost”
Tensions began to escalate in early February when Turkish military personnel deployed to Idleb as part of an agreement between Ankara and Moscow were killed by Syrian bombing. Ankara has since called for the withdrawal of Syrian regime forces east of a key highway. The advancement of Damascus forces has also led several Turkish positions in Idleb to find themselves surrounded.
In parallel with the warnings, Turkey has been deploying for several days important military reinforcements in the Idleb region. “We have made all the preparations to implement our own plans,” said Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday. “We are determined to make Idleb a safe region for Turkey and the local people, whatever the cost,” he added.