Speaking ahead of a phone call with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday called the ongoing conflict in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib “a war.”
“I can say that there is a war,” the president told reporters. “This phone call will determine the course of events. This cruelty will stop.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron have invited Putin to a “very resolute ceasefire in Idlib,” Erdoğan said. “I cannot say that there is an expected response yet.”
Fighting in Idlib has intensified since the beginning of this year after Russia-backed Syrian government forces launched an offensive in the province in April, saying Turkey failed to uphold its end of a 2018 deal with Russia to remove jihadist fighters from the region.
Talks to reach a compromise between Turkey and Russia in the last two weeks have not been fruitful, while Syrian government forces have killed at least 13 Turkish soldiers in February and close to one million people have fled towards the Turkish border.
US stands by ally Turkey after deadly regime attacks
‘We stand by our NATO Ally Turkey against these action,’ State Department spokeswoman tells Anadolu Agency
The U.S. expressed condolences Friday to Turkey following deadly Syrian regime attacks on Turkish positions in northwestern Syria’s Idlib province “used for coordination and de-escalation.”
“We send condolences to the Turkish government on the death of these soldiers. These attacks have now killed multiple Turkish personnel,” a State Department spokeswoman told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity. “We stand by our NATO Ally Turkey against these actions.”
“President Trump, in his call with Turkish President Erdogan on Saturday, expressed his concern over the violence in Idlib and reiterated our call for Russia to end its support for the Assad regime’s atrocities and for a political resolution to the Syrian conflict,” the spokeswoman added.
Two Turkish soldiers were martyred and five others wounded in airstrikes on Thursday in Idlib.
Erdogan says Turkey will not withdraw from Syria’s Idlib until attacks by Damascus stop
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed not to remove Turkish troops from Syria’s Idlib region and said that his upcoming phone call with Russian leader Vladimir Putin will help Ankara determine its policies.
A phone call between the two leaders to discuss Idlib is expected to take place on Friday evening. “The result of this conversation will determine our attitude” in the area, Erdogan said. The Turkish leader stated that Ankara will not pull its forces out of Idlib while operations by the Syrian government continue there.
Unless the regime [in Damascus] stops its attacks in Idlib, it is not possible for us to withdraw.
Syria’s northwestern Idlib Province is the last-remaining major stronghold controlled by the forces fighting against the Syrian government. Some of these forces are jihadist groups and some are militants backed by Turkey. The situation on the ground deteriorated dramatically in recent weeks as the Syrian Army renewed its push against what it said were terrorists attacking Syrian troops and personnel. Turkey, meanwhile, accused Damascus of bombing civilians and shelling its soldiers.
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Turkey requests US air support as fighting heats up in Idlib