Turkey threatens military operation if Syrian government advance in Idlib continues

ANKARA – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated on Friday that Turkey might launch a military operation in Idlib Governorate in northwestern Syria if the Syrian government offensive did not stop quickly.

The statement came after the Syrian Arab Army took control of many towns and cities in southern Idlib over the past several days, including the city of Maarat al-Numan, which was of great importance to the opposition.

Erdogan also accused Russia of violating the de-escalation agreements in Idlib. Moscow rejected those charges. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated on Friday that Idlib was a safe haven for the terrorists who target Syrian forces and Russian air bases in Syria.

The Kremlin stated that Russia has completely fulfilled its obligations in Idlib but is deeply concerned about what it described as “intense attacks” by militants on the Syrian Arab Army and the Russian Khmeimim Air Base near the city of Latakia in western Syria.

Erdogan insisted that Ankara would not allow new threats near its borders, even if it required the use of military force. “We will do what is appropriate if our lands are threatened,” he said.

He also said that Turkey may launch a new operation in northeastern Syria against the predominantly Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), an integral component of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a local U.S. partner force. Turkey invaded northeastern Syria using the same pretext in October 2019. Despite two sperate ceasefires brokered by the U.S and Russia, fighting has continued.