The Turkish army should head to Damascus, put a sack over Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's head and deal the final blow to the "bloody and filthy regime" if politics and diplomacy fail, MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli said on March 3. Bahçeli, who is an ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), said that Russia and Syria should not test Turkey's patience any longer.
The investigation into the death of James Gustaf Edward Le Mesurier was completed after nearly 3,5 months, with Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office concluding that the former officer died as a result of falling and ruling for nonsuit. Le Mesurier was found dead in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district early on Nov. 11, 2019, prompting suspicions on whether he was murdered.
A Russian warship was photographed on March 1 transiting the Bosphorus Strait that links the Black and Mediterranean seas, amid continuing clashes in Syria's Idlib. The ship was accompanied by two coast guard boats and maritime police when it was passed through the Bosphorus. Russian soldiers were spotted wearing life jackets on the ship's deck.
Turkish Defense Ministry has said that Turkey downed a Syrian L-39 type warplane in Idlib. On March 1, Turkey downed two Syrian jets in Idlib. The Syrian military closed the airspace over the province, warning that it would treat any violators as hostile targets and shoot them down.
Pentagon Chief Mark Esper has ruled out air support for Turkey in Syria's Idlib. He also confirmed that he has spoken to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg about the situation in Syria and that NATO was prepared for anything that might happen. Asked what he told his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar during their recent phone call, Esper said the message was that "Russians aren't always good partners."
European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Ankara on March 4. Following the meeting, Borrell said he told Erdoğan that the situation at the border with Greece was "unacceptable."
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has refused to attend a trilateral summit with Greece and Bulgaria to discuss the recent migrant crisis after reports of migrants having been killed on the Greek border surfaced.
German Chancellor Merkel has criticized Turkey's move to ease border restrictions and accused Turkish President Erdoğan of pressuring the EU “on the back of the refugees." Meanwhile, EU interior ministers will hold an extraordinary meeting on March 4 to discuss the situation at the EU's border.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on March 2 said that the losses of the Syrian army "are just beginning," adding "If they do not withdraw to the lines Turkey has determined as soon as possible, they will not have a head left on their shoulders." He also said that the "the regime suffered one of its biggest losses" after last week's attack that killed 34 Turkish soldiers in Idlib.
The European Union's chief executive, Ursula von der Leyen, expressed sympathy with Turkey over the conflict in Syria on March 2 but said Ankara deciding to let refugees and migrants through to Europe "cannot be" the answer. "I acknowledge that Turkey is in a difficult situation with regards to the refugees and the migrants. But what we see now cannot be an answer or solution," she told a news conference.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that the number of migrants heading towards Europe will soon reach millions, as he commented on Ankara's decision last week to let migrants cross its borders into Europe. "The number of migrants who headed to Europe surpassed 100,000 since we opened our borders. The number will be in millions soon," Erdoğan said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told Tass that Russia does not plan to go to war with anyone, but wants to dissuade other countries from engaging in conflict with Moscow. The publication of the remarks came amid rising tensions in Syria's Idlib region where Russia is backing Syrian government forces against Turkey.
A U.S. delegation arrived in Turkey on March 2 to hold talks on the situation in the embattled province of Idlib, Syria. During their visit, the U.S. delegation is expected to meet representatives of the UN and NGOs to discuss the humanitarian crisis of some one million refugees fleeing the clashes in Idlib.
The Kremlin hopes that the Russian media outlets in Turkey will not face situations similar to what Sputnik journalists experienced, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on March 2, a day after four Sputnik journalists were detained. The Journalists' Union of Turkey said the intimidation of reporters and their detention were unacceptable.
The Kremlin on March 2 drew Turkey's attention to a warning from the Russian Defense Ministry that Moscow could not guarantee the safety of Turkish planes flying in Syria after Damascus said it was closing the air space over the Idlib region. A day earlier, a source in the Syrian Defense Ministry said on March 1 that Turkish F-16 fighter jets had downed two Syrian warplanes over the Idlib de-escalation zone, the pilots had ejected themselves.