Turkey threatens “radicals” in Idlib to reduce escalation with Damascus

ANKARA / WASHINGTON – On Thursday, the Turkish Minister of Defense Hulusi Acar said that his country would resort to force with armed groups that violate the ceasefire in Idlib Governorate, as a response to Russian criticism.

State-run Anadolu Agency quoted Acar as saying that Turkey sent additional reinforcements to their positions in Idlib to ensure compliance with the ceasefire and control in the region. “We will take all measures against those who do not comply with the ceasefire in Idlib, including radicals and we will force them to commit,” said Acar.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Ankara sent a message to the armed groups who they are supporting in the conflict to refrain from any uncontrolled action that might give Syrian forces any excuse to launch an attack.

Also on Wednesday, U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said at the Atlantic Institute in Washington D.C. that the United States would not interfere in Idlib to straighten out what he called a “bad situation”

O’Brien’s statements included harsh criticism of Turkey, and commenting on Turkish-Russian relations, he added, “President Putin and Erdogan have a close relationship, but they are sometimes friends, and sometimes are not, and therefore it is up to them to resolve this situation.”

O’Brien also remarked that the U.S. condemns what is happening in Idlib because it is causing an awful crisis of refugees and believes that Assad and Iran are two bad players, but the Russians and Turks weren’t any more helpful in reducing the escalating situation in Idlib.