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

Turkish, US officials discuss developments in Syria

Turkish, US officials discuss developments in Syria

Turkey will push forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad away from the last major rebel stronghold in Syria and will heavily retaliate for any attacks on the Turkish military, Erdogan told lawmakers on Wednesday.

In return, Russian Federation accused Turkey of failing to honor a 2018 deal, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying Ankara "had taken upon itself an obligation to neutralize terrorist groups" in Idlib.

The latest movements came a day after Turkey launched counter-attacks said to have killed 51 Syrian government troops; retaliation for 13 Turkish soldiers killed by Syrian shelling in recent days.

Violence has flared in Idlib, just south of Turkey's border, in recent weeks as regime forces backed by Russian Federation and Iran have made gains in their campaign to eliminate the last opposition bastion after the country's nine-year war.

"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 Idlib's borders or the lines of the Sochi agreement", Erdogan said, referring to a 2018 ceasefire accord.

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The Syrian people's fight for freedom is also Turkey's fight, he said.

"The head of the Turkish regime comes with empty... statements only issued by a person disconnected from reality", state news agency SANA quoted a source at the foreign ministry as saying.

Russia, which has an air base in Syria, has controlled Idlib's air space for several years.

Syrian forces have killed at least 14 Turks this month in Idlib, as the Turkish military proceeds with a rapid build-up in the northwestern province.

Since then, however, more than 1,800 civilians have been killed in attacks by regime and Russian forces, flouting both the 2018 ceasefire and a new one that started on January 12.

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