Turkey will drive Syrian forces back from Idlib posts this week: Erdogan

FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of his ruling AK Party during a meeting at the Parliament in Ankara, Turkey, February 19, 2020. Turkish Presidential Press Office/Handout via REUTERS

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SULAIMANI — Turkey plans to push Syrian government forces away from its military observation posts in northwest Syria’s Idlib region by end-February, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday (February 26), despite advances by the Russian-backed government forces.

Erdogan said he hoped the issue of using air space in Idlib will be resolved soon. Russia controls the region’s air space and has been bombing Turkey-backed rebels on a daily basis in support of an offensive by the Syrian government forces, according to Reuters.

“We are planning to liberate our observation posts from the surrounding [Syrian government forces] by the end of this month, one way or another,” Erdogan told his party’s MPs in a speech.

Syrian rebels backed by the Turkish military seized the town of Nairab in Idlib this week, according to rebel and Turkish sources, but Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces continue to made advances elsewhere in the province.

Erdogan first said on Feb. 5 that Assad’s forces must pull back behind a line of Turkish observation posts by end-February, or Turkey would drive them back.

Turkey set up 12 observation posts up around a “de-escalation zone” in Idlib under a 2017 agreement with Russia and Iran, but several are now behind Syrian government front lines.

(NRT Digital Media/Reuters)