Turkey reinforces outposts in Syria's Idlib: Report
Iran Press TV
Friday, 07 February 2020 11:48 AM
Turkey has sent nearly 150 vehicles with commandos and ammunition to bolster its observation outposts in Idlib, where an intensified offensive is underway by the Syrian army forces against foreign-backed militant outfits
A Turkish security source said they were only to reinforce the 12 existing posts established under a 2018 deal with Russia, Turkish state news agency Anadolu reported Friday.
Under the deal between Ankara, Moscow and Tehran aimed at reducing violence, Turkey agreed to set up a dozen observation posts in Idlib and neighboring provinces.
Despite Ankara's commitments under the agreement, a number of Russian troops were recently killed during attacks launched by militants from Turkey's de-escalation zone in Idlib.
"There has recently been a dangerous increase in tension and a surge of violence in Idlib," Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday, adding, "Russian and Turkish military experts were tragically killed" there, without giving a toll.
The Russian ministry said Idlib-based militants had staged "more than 1,000 attacks in the last two weeks of January" from a Turkish-controlled de-escalation zone in the flashpoint province. It stressed that most of the attacks had been conducted by the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham militant group.
The Syrian army has already regained almost all territories once controlled by terrorists, except portions of Aleppo and large swaths of Idlib, the last stronghold of Takfiri militants, particularly the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.
Turkey said on Friday three of its outposts in Idlib -- all in the southeastern part of the region -- have now been encircled by the Syrian government troops.
The so-called Syrian Observatory of Human Rights monitor said Wednesday that Turkish troops at another position in Saraqeb had shelled Syrian forces to prevent it from being surrounded.
Turkey and Russia have worked closely in recent years to resolve the situation in Idlib despite being on opposing sides of the conflict.
The Turkish source cited by Anadolu insisted that coordination with Russia remained strong and that joint patrols in northeastern Syria were only cancelled earlier this week due to "heavy weather conditions".
A delegation from the Russian foreign ministry is expected in Turkey on Saturday for further talks, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara on Friday.
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