Turkish military will strike Syrian government forces by air or ground "anywhere" in Syria if another Turkish soldier is hurt, Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan said on Feb. 12. Erdoğan also said Turkey was determined to push the Syrian troops beyond Turkish observation posts in Idlib by the end this month.
Turkish Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın and U.S. Special Envoy for Syria James Jeffrey highlighted during their meeting on Feb. 12 that Idlib deal must be upheld and the Syrian regime attacks need to stop as soon possible for a political solution process to be initiated in the war-torn country, according to a statement released by the Turkish presidency.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Special Envoy for Syria James Jeffrey have extended their condolences to Turkey following a Syrian army attack that killed five Turkish soldiers in Idlib. "The ongoing assaults by the Assad regime and Russia must stop. I've sent Jim Jeffrey to Ankara to coordinate steps to respond to this destabilizing attack. We stand by our NATO Ally #Turkey," Pompeo said on Twitter.
Damascus has said that it "categorically rejects" Turkish presence on Syrian soil. "Syria reaffirms its categorical rejection of any Turkish presence on the Syrian territory, as it constitutes a flagrant violation of the international law and a blatant aggression on the Syrian sovereignty," it said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that the Syrian government will pay a "heavy price" for attacking Turkish troops in northwest Syria's Idlib region. "They will pay a very heavy price as they attack our soldiers," Erdoğan said. "Especially in Idlib, they got what they deserved. But this is not enough, it will continue," he added.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has called on Syrian government and Russia to cease their attacks in Idlib. “We call on Assad and on Russia, because Russia provides support to the regime, to stop these attacks, to respect international law and to fully support the UN efforts to try to find a peaceful solution,” Stoltenberg said.
The Kremlin said on Feb. 11 that all attacks on Russian and Syrian government forces in Syria's Idlib province had to stop. "At the moment, we consider the most important thing is the implementation of… agreements [between Russia and Turkey]… and of course the suppression of any terrorist activity directed against the Syrian armed forces and Russian military facilities," Kremlin spokesman Peskov said.
Turkey-backed Syrian rebels downed a helicopter belonging to the Syrian army in Idlib's Saraqib on Feb. 11. The helicopter was downed by a ground-to-air missile fired by the militants, two rebel commanders told Reuters.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has sentenced two people to death over the killing of Turkish diplomat Osman Köse. "The court handed sentences to six people. Two were sentenced to death, one was sentenced to a year behind bars and the remaining three were given two years in prison each," lawyer Birzo Said told Rudaw.
Turkey has told a visiting Russian delegation that attacks on Turkish observation posts in Idlib must be stopped immediately, following the death of five Turkish soldiers in an attack by the Syrian government forces. The delegation, however, left Ankara with no apparent agreement on how to halt clashes that killed 13 Turkish soldiers in a week.
Murat Yetkin writes: Countering the threat outside of Turkish borders can be a security policy; but who thought first to send Turkish soldiers into the quicksand before taking necessary measures? I don’t mean Erdoğan, he’s the final decision-maker; who was the one who brought this idea into the system? Who talked the decision-makers into it?
U.S. special envoy for Syria, James Jeffrey, is expected to visit Ankara on Feb. 12 to discuss the current situation in the Syrian province of Idlib. The visit comes amid simmering tension between Ankara and the regime of Bashar al-Assad over the fate of the province.
Five Turkish soldiers were killed and five others were wounded in a Syrian army attack in Idlib, Turkey's Defense Ministry said on Feb. 10. The ministry said that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) were retaliating after the latest strike. Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay has said that Turkish soldiers will stay in Idlib "to give necessary response to those flouting international law."
Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı's remarks on the prospect of annexation by Turkey stirred debate in Turkey, with officials in Ankara releasing condemnations. "Akıncı needs to apologize for the disrespect he showed to the Turkish Republic and our people," AKP spokesperson Ömer Çelik said, adding that Akıncı's statements contradict his position as the leader of Turkish Cypriots.
Iran has said that it is ready to mediate between Ankara and Damascus. In a meeting between the visiting United Nations' special envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, and Iranian officials, Tehran underlined the importance of resolving issues in Syria through diplomacy. "Tehran reiterated that Iran is ready to mediate between Turkey and Syria to solve the issue," a statement released after the meeting read.