SAT 6 - 6 - 2020
Date: Feb 19, 2020
Source: The Daily Star
Turkey to send more troops to Syria even as talks continue
MOSCOW: Turkey will deploy more troops to Syria's Idlib region and retaliate against attacks by government forces there, even as Ankara continues to discuss the situation with Moscow, Turkish Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Tuesday.

A Turkish delegation met Russian counterparts for a second day of talks in Moscow on Tuesday, with no apparent agreement on Idlib, where a push in recent weeks by Russian-backed Syrian government forces has killed several Turkish troops and led to mass displacement of civilians.

"We will continue the deployment and fortification of troops in the area to ensure the safety of the region (Idlib) and the civilians there," Kalin told reporters in Ankara.

Turkey told Russia Tuesday that its military was now ready to make sure that Russian-backed Syrian forces pull out from the last rebel bastion in northwest Syria as the two sides met for talks in Moscow.

Syrian forces, supported by a Russian air campaign, are waging an offensive on parts of the province of Idlib near Turkey, prompting thousands of civilians to flee and Turkey to demand a ceasefire.

President Bashar al-Assad's ally Moscow has accused Turkey of flouting its agreements with it on the nine-year-old war and of failing to rein in militants in Idlib province it said were staging attacks on Syrian and Russian forces.

Russian and Turkish delegations met in Moscow Tuesday for a second day of talks aimed at reconciling their differences over Idlib, which have raised questions over the durability of their cooperation in Syria and elsewhere.

Turkey told the delegation in Moscow that Syrian forces must withdraw to behind a line of Turkish observation posts in Idlib to halt a "humanitarian catastrophe", Omer Celik, spokesman for Erdogan's ruling AK Party, told reporters in Ankara.

"(The Turkish delegation) conveyed clearly that Turkey made the necessary military preparation to make sure the Syrian government withdraws to previous borders if they do not do retreat themselves," he said.


Russia said Monday that Turkey had restarted its joint patrols with the Russian military in northeast Syria after a two-week hiatus.

Turkey and Russia have jointly patrolled Syrian territory near the Turkish border since October. But Turkish forces had not shown up since Feb. 3, the Interfax news agency cited a Russian defence ministry official as saying.

A Turkish security source said on Feb. 7 that Ankara's joint patrols with Moscow had been postponed because of weather conditions.

"The latest joint Russian-Turkish patrol took place...", Russia's Defence Ministry said in a statement without elaborating.

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