Published: Thu, February 13, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

The battle for Syria's Idlib explained in 400 words

The battle for Syria's Idlib explained in 400 words

Turkey's military will strike Syrian government forces by air or ground anywhere in Syria if another Turkish soldier is hurt, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday. The Turkish operation has resulted in limited casualties in recent months, but has allowed Erdogan to claim he will resettle as many as 1 million of the 3.7 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, as well as an additional approximately 600,000 refugees from Idlib, in this so-called safe or security zone.

The Turkish leader's comments were met with anger by the Kremlin, which in turn accused Ankara of breaching the 2018 deal by failing to contain Islamist elements in Idlib.

"Also, perhaps first and foremost, we're talking about the fight against terrorism that the Syrian Armed Forces are waging on the territory of their country", Peskov said, answering a reporter's question on a possible United States intervention in the Syria conflict.

"If there is the smallest injury to our soldiers on the observation posts or other places, I am declaring from here that we will hit the regime forces everywhere from today, regardless of the lines of the Sochi agreement or Idlib".

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Idlib and the surrounding countryside are nominally protected by a 2018 de-escalation deal brokered by Turkey, which backs some of Syria's rebel groups, and Russian Federation, which supports Assad. Moreover, Turkish allegations that the Syrian government is deliberately targeting civilians in Idlib are completely untrue, it added.

Russia, a close ally of the Syrian government, hashed out a deal with Turkey two years ago to create a de-militarised zone in Idlib.

The Russian Defense Ministry also blamed the crisis in Idlib on "Turkish colleagues' failure to fulfil their obligations on separating fighters from the moderate opposition from terrorists". These continual attacks - documented by both Russian and Turkish servicemen stationed in the area - ultimately triggered a Syrian government offensive against the militants.

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