A group of people on early Feb. 28 protested outside the Russian Consulate General in Istanbul against an attack that targeted Turkish troops in northwestern Idlib, Syria. “The whole world knows that Russia and [Syrian] regime forces were behind the attack,” said Sezgin Çelik, one of the protesters.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar visited Syrian border on Feb. 28, following a hectic night of events in the country's Idlib province. Akar and the top commanders also visited Hatay State Hospital to see the soldiers wounded in the attack.
Russia on Feb. 28 said it was sending two warships armed with cruise missiles to waters off the Syrian coast and blamed Ankara for the killing of 33 Turkish soldiers in Syria's Idlib region the previous day. "Turkish military who were in the terrorist units’ battle formations came under Syrian troops’ fire near the inhabited community of Behun on Feb. 27," the ministry said.
Twitter has become unavailable across Turkey immediately after an attack on Turkish soldiers in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib, said NetBlocks.org.
Turkey, faced with a new wave of Syrian migrants and 22 more dead soldiers in Idlib, will no longer stop Syrian refugees from reaching Europe, a senior Turkish official said late on Feb. 27. In anticipation of the imminent arrival of refugees from Idlib, Turkish police, coast guard and border security officials have been ordered to stand down on refugees' land and sea crossings, the Turkish official told Reuters.
At least 33 Turkish soldiers have been killed in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib, in largest death toll in a single day, the governor of Turkey's southern Hatay province said late on Feb. 27. The casualties bring the number of Turkish soldiers killed in Idlib this month to 54.
Russia's Defense Ministry late on Feb. 27 accused Turkey of violating the Sochi agreement by supporting rebels in the Idlib de-escalation zone with artillery fire and drone strikes against the Syrian government army. The ministry's comments came shortly after Turkish and Russian officials ended their third round of talks in Ankara.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that three Turkish soldiers were killed in Syria's Idlib, adding that developments there are turning in Ankara's favor. "Our battle will continue. We are saying that we're in Idlib as per the Adana Agreement," Erdoğan said, referring to an agreement signed in 1998 by Turkey’s then-President Süleyman Demirel and Syria’s then-President Hafez al-Assad.
Syrian rebels backed by the Turkish military have recaptured the strategic town of Saraqeb, the first significant reverse for the Syrian army in a Russian-backed offensive that had made swift gains, the rebels said on Feb. 27.
Two Turkish soldiers have been killed in an air strike in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib, marking the 18th military death for Turkey this month.
Russia has accused Turkey of helping foreign fighters cross into Libya, days after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan admitted that Ankara sent Syrian rebels to the North African country. Bogdanov added that Moscow did not see evidence that Libya’s warring factions were prepared to implement military and political decisions reached at a conference in Berlin on Jan. 19.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a news conference at the State Department on Feb. 25 that the Syrian government's offensive in Idlib “only heightens the risk of conflict with our NATO ally, Turkey," adding that the U.S. was working together with Turkey “on seeing what we can do together.”
Title is from a song by Sheffield band Pulp’s well known 1995 debut album: “Mis-shapes, mistakes, misfits / Raised on a diet of broken biscuits, oh…” With a sleight of hand replace “biscuits” with “promises” and there you have it, a concise executive summary of Erdoğan’s Syria and Libya policies.
While Ankara may not receive the solid backing from NATO that Turkey is seeking against Russia now, dialogue channels with NATO are stronger compared to other international institutions — for example, the European Union. Despite all the conflicts of interest and tensions that Turkey and European states, as well as Ankara and Washington, have endured, their links with NATO are still intact.
Russian FM Lavrov said another round of consultations between Russia and Turkey is currently being prepared regarding Syria's Idlib. In response to the criticism of the Syrian army over its assaults in Idlib, Lavrov said within the framework of the agreements reached between Erdoğan and Putin, Moscow had never promised that “terrorists would not be retaliated” if they themselves initiated attacks.