“Our expectation from Russia at this point is to fulfill its commitments as the guarantor country, and in this context, to use its influence on the regime (Syrian government) to make it halt its attacks and withdraw to the borders set with the Sochi Agreement.”
1 March 2020
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Sunday that Turkey has launched a fresh operation in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib in the wake of the recent attack of Syrian government on Turkish troops there.
“Operation Spring Shield, which was launched following the heinous attack on Feb. 27, is successfully being carried out,” Akar said at Turkey’s southern province of Hatay bordering Syria, according to semi-official Anadolu Agency.
Akar said that “a drone, eight helicopters, 103 tanks, 19 armored personnel carriers, 72 cannons/howitzers/multiple rocket launchers, three air-defense systems, 15 anti-tanks/mortars, 56 armored vehicles, nine ammunition depots and 1,212 Syrian soldiers and elements have been neutralized” so far.
He stressed that talks between Ankara and Moscow are ongoing.
“Our expectation from Russia at this point is to fulfill its commitments as the guarantor country, and in this context, to use its influence on the regime (Syrian government) to make it halt its attacks and withdraw to the borders set with the Sochi Agreement,” said the minister.
He added that Turkey does not seek confrontation with Russia, but will retaliate for any attacks on Turkish troops and observation posts in Idlib.
The operation was launched after at least 34 Turkish soldiers were killed and dozens of others injured late Thursday in an airstrike carried out by Syrian government forces in Idlib which borders southern Turkey.
Turkey has set up several observation points in Idlib under a deal signed with Russia in September 2018 in Sochi, which also recognized Idlib as a “de-escalation zone” and prohibited aggressive acts in the area. But conflicts have continued in the region despite the deal.