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Turkey Reportedly Repositions Tanks Closer to Syrian Border, Plans to Redeploy Them to Idlib

© AP Photo / Lefteris PitarakisA Turkish army officer guides a comrade driving a tank to its new position, after was uploaded from a truck, on the Turkish side of the border between Turkey and Syria, in Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019
A Turkish army officer guides a comrade driving a tank to its new position, after was uploaded from a truck, on the Turkish side of the border between Turkey and Syria, in Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019 - Sputnik International
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Ankara reported sustaining casualties in Idlib blaming them on alleged fire from the positions of the Syrian army, which repelled several attacks by local militants in recent weeks.

Turkish Demirören News Agency has reported that tanks have been redeployed from across Turkey towards the Hatay province located near the country's border with Syria. The tanks will reportedly later be transferred to the Turkish monitoring outposts in Syrian Idlib province, which, as Ankara claims, came under fire from the Syrian military in recent weeks.

Turkey claims that it lost several service members in similar attacks over the past weeks and boasted killing dozens of Syrian soldiers and destroying military equipment when it returned fire. Ankara accused Damascus and Moscow of violating Sochi agreements designed to create a demilitarised zone in Idlib by conducting attacks on its territory.

Moscow, in turn, slammed Ankara for escalating the situation in Idlib and also failing to fulfil obligations under the Sochi agreements, namely by separating terrorist groups from the so-called moderate opposition.

"We see the reasons for the current deterioration in Turkey's chronic failure to fulfil its commitments under the Sochi memorandum and the transfer by Ankara of Turkey-controlled units of the so-called moderate armed opposition to northeastern Syria into the zone of Operation Peace Spring and to Libya", the Russian Foreign Ministry stated.

Russia also criticised Turkey for continuing to support Idlib militants and thus perpetuating the conflict in the region. The Russian Defence Ministry indicated on 20 February that Idlib militants' daring attack on Syrian army positions near the villages of Qmenas and Nerab on that day, came under the support of Turkish artillery fire.

Turkish military vehicles are seen in Hazano near Idlib, Syria, February 11, 2020 - Sputnik International
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The situation in Syrian Idlib has escalated in recent months as local militants intensified their attacks against the Syrian army which returned fire and captured some of these groups' positions in the province. Namely, Damascus returned control over some of Aleppo's suburbs in February 2020. 

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