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Turkey’s Erdogan Threatens Military Operation in Idlib, Syria

Feb. 19, 2020 (EIRNS)—Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to launch a military operation in Syria’s Idlib province if the Syrian army doesn’t return to the lines that existed at the time of the September 2018 Sochi de-escalation agreement between him and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Erdogan vowed, today, that launching an operation in Idlib is just “a matter of time.” Erdogan said that a series of meetings between Russian and Turkish diplomatic, military and intelligence officials on the situation in Idlib failed to produce results. “Although the meetings will continue, it is a reality that we were very far from what we want,” he said. “Turkey has made all preparations to carry out its own operation plans in Idlib.”

In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denounced the possibility of a Turkish operation against the Syrian army in Idlib as the worst possible scenario. “If it will be an operation against terrorist forces in Idlib, that would certainly be within the spirit” of Russia’s agreements with Turkey, he said. “But if it is about an operation against legitimate Syrian armed forces, that would certainly be the worst-case scenario.”

Peskov observed that under the Sochi agreement, Turkey is supposed to use its clout among the armed groups to scale down and eventually halt attacks from within the province. The arrangement was taken as an alternative to a major military offensive by Damascus, which, Ankara said, would cause a major exodus of refugees from Syria to Turkey. In reality this didn’t happen, Peskov said. “We were satisfied with the agreements that were reached in Sochi over a year ago and the satisfaction was mutual. We were absolutely not satisfied after militants and terrorist groups started launching attacks from Idlib territory against the Syrian armed forces and Russian military sites,” he said. “That is when our satisfaction ended.” In other words, had Turkey disarmed and removed the militant groups from Idlib as it promised to do under the Sochi agreement, the Syrian army offensive would not have been necessary.

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