Syrian Regime Forces Surround Turkish Army Post

23 Août, 2019, 18:35 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tells a news conference in the Lebanese capital that Turkish troops will not quit a military observation post in northwestern Syria

Syrian troops have encircled rebels and a Turkish military post in northwest Syria in an offensive to reclaim territory and towns they lost early in the war.

Regime soldiers captured a dozen hills, expanding control of a main highway that runs through the area and stretches from the capital Damascus to Aleppo city.

The military observation post near the town of Morek is one of 12 which Turkey established in northwest Syria under a deal with Moscow and Tehran two years ago to reduce fighting between President Bashar al-Assad's forces and rebels.

On Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the situation in Syria with Russia's Vladimir Putin, telling his Russian counterpart that violations of the cease fire in Idlib is paving the way to a "humanitarian crisis", according to Erdogan's office.

The Turkish presidency on Friday said regime attacks in Idlib have led to a "grave humanitarian crisis".

Turkey and Russian Federation agreed last September to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone where acts of aggression are expressly prohibited. Turkey is a strong backer of the Syrian opposition and rebels fighting Assad's forces.

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The Turkish leader also told Putin that the attacks were harming efforts for a resolution of the Syrian conflict and posing a "serious threat" to Turkey's security.

He said a schedule agreed upon with the U.S. for the planned safe zone in northeastern Syria will be gradually implemented in the coming weeks.

Idlib, near the Turkish border, is the last major rebel-controlled province in Syria.

The town of Morek, where the Turkish troops have been cut off, lies in the north of Hama province, part of the opposition-ruled region centered on neighboring Idlib province that has been under regime assault since late April. Insurgents there have suffered a series of setbacks over the past three weeks in the face of a stepped-up government offensive in the country's northwest. They then launched the siege on rebel-held towns and villages in the northern province, adjoining Hama.

Syrian regime forces have been on the offensive in Idlib and northern parts of Hama province since April 30, forcing almost half a million people to flee to safer areas further north. Still, the prospect of more advances is obstructed not only by Turkey's interests near its border but also US forces alongside Kurdish fighters in the northeast.

"The Secretary-General said that he is deeply troubled by the continued escalation in north-west Syria and the prospect of an offensive deeper into Idlib, which could trigger a new wave of human suffering possibly impacting more than 3 million people", Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, told a press conference late Wednesday.

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