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Iran Press TV

We will not hesitate to take actions against any threat: Turkey to Syria

Iran Press TV

Monday, 03 February 2020 6:26 PM

Turkey says it will not hesitate to act against Syrian forces pressing ahead with a counterterrorism offensive to liberate the last major terrorist-held territory in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib.

Fahrettin Altun, Turkey's communications director, went brash in a Twitter posting on Monday after Ankara said Syrian shelling had killed five Turkish soldiers in Idlib.

"The Assad regime's attack on our forces is the latest example of its cowardly actions in northern Syria," Fahrettin Altun said.

"If Russia is unable to control the Assad regime from targeting us, we will not hesitate to take actions against any threat, just as we did today in Idlib."

Turkey launched airstrikes against Syrian troops in Idlib, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claiming the raids were in response to attacks on Turkish forces.

Erdogan said Turkey's F-16 warplanes were involved in the strikes.

Turkey's Defense Minister Hulusi Akar later said Turkish forces had hit 54 targets in Idlib in retaliation and "neutralized" 76 Syrian government soldiers.

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is based in London and is generally sympathetic to militants in Syria, said 13 members of the Syrian government forces had been killed in Turkish shelling.

Syrian state TV said there had been no casualties among the government forces.

The Turkish president also said Ankara had urged Moscow, which supports the Syrian army in the offensive, "to stand aside" in the escalating conflict.

Russia's Defense Ministry said the Turkish military came under fire from Syrian government forces because Moscow had not been warned about Turkey's operations in Idlib.

Erdogan further accused Russia of violating agreements to reduce the fighting in Idlib.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia was fully compliant with its obligations in Idlib, which was a haven for militants targeting Syrian troops and a Russian airbase in Syria.

On Friday, Erdogan thundered from a podium in Ankara that his country would launch a military operation in Idlib if the ongoing counterterrorism operation continued.

Turkey has in recent days sent military vehicles, trucks and other reinforcements to the region.

Idlib is dominated by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a group that was once Syria's version of al-Qaeda.

In September 2018, Turkey and Russia signed a ceasefire deal to create a demilitarized zone in Idlib. Turkey also set up a dozen observation points in the region to uphold the ceasefire.

Under the Sochi agreement, all militants in the demilitarized zone that surrounds Idlib, and also parts of Aleppo province and the west-central province of Hama, were supposed to pull out heavy arms by October 2018. Takfiri groups were to withdraw.

However, Turkey has failed to fulfill any of its obligations as Takfiri terrorists have continued to rule supreme in the regions outside the control of the Syrian government.

Turkey has intervened militarily in Syria three times to date in cross-border operations with the declared aim of eradicating Kurdish militants and the Daesh Takfiri terrorists near borders.

Turkey, which supports the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) terrorists, launched two of the operations in northern Syria in August 2016 and January 2018.

Again in October 2019, Turkish troops and its proxies launched a cross-border invasion of northeastern Syria in a declared attempt to push the Kurds from border areas.

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