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Erdogan Vows Turkey Will Not Take Step Back in Syria's Idlib

© REUTERS / Khalil AshawiTurkish military vehicles enter the Bab al-Hawa crossing at the Syrian-Turkish border, in Idlib governorate, Syria, February 9, 2020
Turkish military vehicles enter the Bab al-Hawa crossing at the Syrian-Turkish border, in Idlib governorate, Syria, February 9, 2020 - Sputnik International
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Turkey has repeatedly accused the Syrian Army of attacking its forces in the Idlib outposts over the last few months as well as violating the Sochi agreements that established the demilitarised zone in the Syrian province.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated the time Ankara has given Damascus to pull its troops away from Turkish observation posts in Syria’s Idlib is coming to an end, adding that Turkey will not take the "smallest step back" in the province. Instead Erdogan vowed that Ankara's forces will push the Syrian Army beyond the perimeter of those posts by the end of February.

"We would like to remind those who try to corner Turkey by forcing their own agenda onto it, that we are not guests in this region, but its masters", Erdogan said.

The Turkish president hasn't ruled out "active involvement" as a mean to achieve the country's goals in Idlib. Erdogan added, however, that he asked his Russian colleague, Vladimir Putin to try and convince Syrian President Bashar Assad to stop the Idlib offensive. Erdogan also claimed that Ankara will create the conditions needed for the safe return of Syrians to their homes in the province.

In a separate comment, the Turkish president also indicated that the country has requested to purchase US Patriot missile air defence systems, but noted that Washington doesn't have any extra for sale and hence can't supply them to Turkey at present. Erdogan stressed though that Turkey has Spanish Patriots deployed in the country at the moment.

© AP Photo / Mindaugas KulbisMembers of US 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command stands next to a Patriot surface-to-air missile battery during the NATO multinational ground based air defence units exercise "Tobruq Legacy 2017" at the Siauliai airbase. (File)
Erdogan Vows Turkey Will Not Take Step Back in Syria's Idlib - Sputnik International
Members of US 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command stands next to a Patriot surface-to-air missile battery during the NATO multinational ground based air defence units exercise "Tobruq Legacy 2017" at the Siauliai airbase. (File)

The Turkish president said that his country has not yet received support from the US on the situation in Idlib, but added that he will be raising this issue in his next talk with US President Donald Trump.

Turkish-Syrian Tensions Escalate in Idlib

The Turkish president's remarks come amid media reports that Ankara was redeploying tanks from across the country towards the border with Syria. The report by Demirören News Agency indicated that armoured vehicles were destined to be sent to Turkish observation posts in Idlib.

The reports were preceded by an ongoing escalation in the Syrian province with Turkish forces claiming to be hit by Syrian Army attacks on several occasions and sustaining losses. Ankara claimed to have responded to these attacks killing and injuring dozens of Syrian soldiers.

© AFP 2022 / ABDULAZIZ KETAZSmoke plumes rising following a reported air strike near a Turkish military observation point between the northwestern Syrian city of Idlib and the neighbouring town of Qaminas
Erdogan Vows Turkey Will Not Take Step Back in Syria's Idlib - Sputnik International
Smoke plumes rising following a reported air strike near a Turkish military observation point between the northwestern Syrian city of Idlib and the neighbouring town of Qaminas

Turkey accuses the Syrian government and Russia of violating the Sochi agreements that established Idlib’s demilitarised zone. Damascus insists that its offensive was a response to continuing attacks from militants in the province and accused Ankara of aggression.

Soldiers of Syrian army are seen after the liberation of Jaranjaz town from militants, northwestern province of Idlib, Syria. Due to the location of Jarjanaz, this will enable the army to take control over the important Hama-Aleppo road in Idlib, which remains a terrorist stronghold. - Sputnik International
Russia Urges Turkey to Abide by Sochi Agreements on Idlib As Ankara Vows No Escalation with Moscow

Moscow, in turn, also slammed Turkey for violating the Sochi agreements by failing to differentiate between terrorists and so-called moderate opposition in the province. The Russian Defence Ministry indicated that some of the militants' attacks on Syrian Army positions came under the cover of Turkish artillery.

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