Turkey-backed rebels have shot down a Syrian army helicopter in western Aleppo, the second such incident in three days. A video was released shortly after the incident, showing the moment the militant anti-aircraft missile hit the Syrian military chopper.
Moscow expects Ankara to ensure the safety of all Russians who work in Turkey, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. "We have no doubt that the Turkish authorities will take the necessary measures to ensure the safety of the Russian envoy and all embassy staff members," Peskov said. Turkish officials have reportedly increased security at the Russian Embassy in Ankara in the wake of threats addressed to Ambassador Alexey Yerkhov.
Russian Foreign Ministry has warned Turkey to refrain from provocative statements on Idlib, days after MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli directed accusations toward Moscow. "We believe that in the context of the tense situation in the northwest of Syria, it is worth exercising restraint and in particular refraining from provocative comments that do not contribute to a constructive dialogue between our countries," the ministry said.
Turkey will send additional troops to Syria's Idlib in order for the establishment of a ceasefire, the country's Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said. "Those who don't comply with the ceasefire, including the radicals, will be hit and all precautions will be taken," he said. "Our observation posts that we have reinforced will continue to play an important role on monitoring the situation on the field," he added.
The Pentagon has denied that a deal was reached between Turkey and the U.S. regarding Idlib. "No such agreement was made," Voice of America's Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb said on Feb. 12, citing Alyssa Farah, the chief Pentagon spokeswoman. Babb also said that reports of a closed door meeting between Turkish Defense Minister Akar and his U.S. counterpart Esper is false.
It’s hard to voice opposition to war when the coffins of slain soldiers are being sent back from Syria and when the nationalist mood is in full swing. However HDP deputy and former journalist Ahmet Şık, who has been jailed twice and is still tried on the Cumhuriyet case, says that they have the responsibility to question why so many young people are dying for.
Turkey's Defense Ministry said on Feb. 12 that its forces had killed 55 Syrian regime soldiers in Idlib, in a significant escalation in the battle to control the country’s last opposition stronghold. Turkey's move comes in the wake of an attack by regime forces earlier this week that claimed the lives of five Turkish troops.
Russia has said that the situation in Syria's Idlib was being aggravated by the flow of Turkish troops into the province. "The situation is aggravated by the flow of arms and ammunition into the de-escalation zone across the Turkish-Syrian border, as well as columns of Turkish armored vehicles and troops entering Syria's province of Idlib," the Russian Defense Ministry said in a press release on Feb. 12.
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.
The government, despite all the efforts of the public relations staff, has not been able to convince the streets about the presence of troops there. When one starts talking to a citizen on the street, they start asking, “What business do we have over there?” There’s no rocket science involved, no situation that requires extraordinarily high intelligence that we bird-brained people are somehow unable to understand.
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.
More people have fled fighting in Syria over the past 10 weeks than at any other time in the 9-year-old conflict, two U.N. agencies said on Feb. 11. "It's the fastest growing displacement we have ever seen in the country," Jens Laerke from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said, adding that nearly 700,000 people had fled since December, mostly women and children.
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.