Turkey vows to retaliate 'in strongest way' if army posts in Idlib threatened

Turkey's Defense Ministry said Jan. 28 that it would retaliate "in the strongest way, without hesitation" against any attack on its observation posts in Syria's northwestern Idlib province by President Bashar al-Assad's forces. The ministry's comments came as Syrian government forces entered the town of Maarat al-Numan in Idlib.

Duvar English

Turkey's Defense Ministry said on Jan. 28 it will retaliate "in the strongest way, without hesitation” if any of the Turkish military observation posts in Syria's northwest are threatened. The ministry's comments came as Syrian regime forces entered Idlib province's Maarat al-Numan town on the same day.

“Despitethe ceasefire declaration on January 12, 2020, the regime continuesto kill innocent civilians by attacks from both land and air, forcingthe civilians to leave their homes and migrate in winter conditions,causing a great human tragedy in Idlib,” said the ministry.

“Any attempt to endanger the security of our Observation and Control Points operating within the scope of the Astana and Sochi Accords will be responded to in the strongest manner without any hesitation based on the right of self-defense.”

InDecember, Syrian regime forces surrounded one of the Turkish posts inIdlib.

Turkey— a strong backer of some of the rebels fighting agains SyrianPresident Bashar Assad’s forces — has a dozen observation postsin Idlib province, as part of an agreement reached in 2018 withRussia, a main supporter of Assad.

TheTurkish Defense Ministry's comments came in the face of a reneweddrive by Assad to recapture Idlib, which sparked a new exodus of tensof thousands of civilians towards Turkey's border. The Syrianregime's attacks come despite a Jan. 12 ceasefire deal between Turkeyand Russia.

On Jan. 28, Syrian state broadcaster al-Ikhbariya said regime forces entered the town of Maarat al-Numan in Idlib and were combing its districts while advancing further into the town. The state news agency SANA said later the forces had “liberated most of the town’s districts.”

Maarat al-Numan, the second largest town in Idlib province, is located on the main highway linking the capital Damascus with Aleppo in northern Syria.

Onan official visit to African country of Senegal, Turkish PresidentRecep Tayyip Erdoğan said civilians were fleeing toward the Turkishborder.

“Thereis a movement toward our border. We have taken our measures,” hesaid, adding that Turkey was building homes inside Syria for peoplefleeing Idlib.

“Weare following the process with sensitivity. I hope we will reachpeace in Idlib.”