Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday said that the situation in northwest Syria will not be resolved until Syrian troops withdraw beyond the borders that Turkey and Russia outlined in a 2018 agreement. Turkey and Russia both back opposing sides in the war in Syria but decided to cooperate in an effort to seek a political situation.
Back in 2018, Turkey and Russia collaborated together to set-up a de-escalation zone in Idlib in order to stem the violence in the region. A recent Syrian offensive has threatened to unravel this fragile cooperation.
Erdogan further added that the only solution remaining in Idlib is the withdrawal of the Syrian regime to the borders of the previous agreements. Erdogan claimed that if the Syrian regime did not withdraw to the borders as per the agreement, then Turkey would 'handle' the situation before the end of February.
Erdogan also made it clear in his statement that until Syria was free of terrorist organisations and the cruelty of the Syrian regime, Turkey would not "rest easy". And while Turkey would like to take any action with support from "friends", they would do it the hard way if they have to.
Earlier, Turkey had announced that it had fulfilled all its responsibilities in Syria’s Idlib region under the 2018 de-escalation agreements with Russia and Iran, international media reported. Ankara on Saturday announced that it might take military action if diplomatic efforts with Moscow fail.
Syrian offensive in Idlib in the past two weeks has killed 13 Turkish soldiers and severed the cooperative ties between Russia and Turkey. Following the offensive, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to attack Syrian forces if any other Turkish soldier was hurt.
According to international reports, Kremlin urged Ankara on February 12 to implement the peace agreements. After a phone call between both leaders, Kremlin reportedly released a statement that Russia and Turkey 'noted the importance of full implementation' of the existing accords including the Sochi memorandum. The leaders have also reviewed the different aspects of the settlement of the Syrian crisis especially in the context of the recent escalation in the Idlib de-escalation zone.
It was in 2018 when both countries had agreed on a memorandum in order to enforce a demilitarized zone in Syria's Idlib region from which the 'radical' forces were asked to withdraw. However, Russia has insisted that groups of 'terrorists' have continued to fight in the same region.
(Image Credit: AP)