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Ankara warned Syrian troops to withdraw from their position in northern Syria, Turkey’s Permanent Rep. Feridun Sinirlioğlu said on Jan. 6 at the UN Security Council Meeting on “the situation in the Middle East.”

“We will never hesitate to use our right to self-defense. I am not drawing a red line here. This is a warning,” said Sinirlioğlu.

Turkey’s Permanent Rep. Feridun Sinirlioğlu attends the UN Security Council Meeting on “the situation in the Middle East” Jan. 6.

He then echoed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s call on Feb. 5 that Syrian troops withdraw from Idlib by the end of the month.

“We expect the regime and its supporters to take the necessary steps in that direction,” Sinirlioğlu said.

Syrian troops’ shelling killed eight of Turkey’s military personnel Feb. 3, which Ankara promptly retaliated against.

Tensions between Ankara and Moscow

Russian-ally Syria’s attacks of Turkish troops have escalated tensions between Ankara and Moscow, parties to the October 22, 2019 Sochi Memorandum wherein the two powers agreed on collaborating on a “safe zone” in Northern Syria.

Sinirlioğlu said in his speech that while Russia “committed to take all necessary measures” to ensure a ceasefire in Idlib, Syrian troops have continually violated the Sochi terms.

UN Security Council gathered to discuss “the situation in the Middle East” Jan. 6.

As a response, he said Turkey had to take military action in self-defense.

“We were forced to deploy additional troops to protect our military observation posts and to prevent the escalation of hostilities in Idlib, in line with the responsibilities bestowed on Turkey as a guarantor [of the Sochi Memorandum],” Sinirlioğlu said.

Erdoğan said Feb. 5 that he asked Russian President Vladimir Putin that Syrian troops retreat to the outlines of the Sochi Memorandum.

“If the terrorist organization’s attacks can’t be prevented by countries that are the guarantors of the region, it will become inevitable that we do it ourselves,” Erdoğan had said of the attacks.

Washington: UN needs to establish safe zone

At the UN Security Council Meeting of Thursday United States Ambassador Kelly Craft argued that the Astana forum cannot be trusted to establish a successful ceasefire.

“The sheer scale of destruction both endorsed and facilitated by Russia shows that neither they, nor Iran, nor the Assad regime can be trusted to deliver a ceasefire, let alone a political solution,” Craft added.

The Office of the Special Envoy should focus on establishing a stable ceasefire in northwest Syria, Craft noted, to avoid displacing anymore civilians than the reported 700,000.

“For months, the UN warned Council members of an impending humanitarian catastrophe in northwest Syria if violence continued unabated. That catastrophe has now arrived.”

Syrian civilians on their way out of Idlib, Syria near the Turkish border on February 5, 2020.