The Kremlin said on Feb. 11 that all attacks on Russian and Syrian government forces in Syria's Idlib province had to stop. "At the moment, we consider the most important thing is the implementation of… agreements [between Russia and Turkey]… and of course the suppression of any terrorist activity directed against the Syrian armed forces and Russian military facilities," Kremlin spokesman Peskov said.
Turkey-backed Syrian rebels downed a helicopter belonging to the Syrian army in Idlib's Saraqib on Feb. 11. The helicopter was downed by a ground-to-air missile fired by the militants, two rebel commanders told Reuters.
Turkey has told a visiting Russian delegation that attacks on Turkish observation posts in Idlib must be stopped immediately, following the death of five Turkish soldiers in an attack by the Syrian government forces. The delegation, however, left Ankara with no apparent agreement on how to halt clashes that killed 13 Turkish soldiers in a week.
Murat Yetkin writes: Countering the threat outside of Turkish borders can be a security policy; but who thought first to send Turkish soldiers into the quicksand before taking necessary measures? I don’t mean Erdoğan, he’s the final decision-maker; who was the one who brought this idea into the system? Who talked the decision-makers into it?
U.S. special envoy for Syria, James Jeffrey, is expected to visit Ankara on Feb. 12 to discuss the current situation in the Syrian province of Idlib. The visit comes amid simmering tension between Ankara and the regime of Bashar al-Assad over the fate of the province.
Five Turkish soldiers were killed and five others were wounded in a Syrian army attack in Idlib, Turkey's Defense Ministry said on Feb. 10. The ministry said that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) were retaliating after the latest strike. Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay has said that Turkish soldiers will stay in Idlib "to give necessary response to those flouting international law."
Syrian troops should withdraw from their position in northern Syria, Turkey's Permanent Rep. Feridun Sinirlioğlu said Jan. 6 at the UN Security Council Meeting. "We will never hesitate to use our right to self-defense. I am not drawing a red line here. This is a warning," told Sinirlioğlu. Tensions have been rising between Ankara and Moscow as a result of Russian-ally Assad troops advancing on Turkey's "safe zone," the latest one killing eight military personnel Jan. 3.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that Washington stands with Ankara following a Syrian attack that killed five soldiers and three civilian personnel in Idlib. “We stand by our NATO ally Turkey in the aftermath of the attack, which resulted in the death of multiple Turkish personnel serving at an observation post used for coordination and de-escalation,” he said.
A large number of vehicles belonging to the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) reportedly entered Syria and are heading towards Idlib and Aleppo, amid reports that Ankara will militarize the Aleppo-Latakia road in a sign of rising tensions between the two countries supporting opposing sides of the Syrian conflict. Erdoğan on Jan. 31 said that Turkey may launch a military operation in Idlib unless fighting there is "quickly halted."