Turkey warned on Tuesday it will retaliate “in self-defense” if any of its army posts in northwest Syria are threatened amid increasing attacks by regime forces on the country’s last major opposition bastion.
Ankara established 12 observation posts under a September 2018 deal with Russia, a major ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, to prevent any onslaught in Idlib.
The city is home to some three million people, around half of whom have been displaced by violence in other areas.
But despite a ceasefire arranged by Damascus ally Moscow and Ankara, which backs the rebels, the regime’s deadly offensive has sparked an exodus of thousands of civilians toward the Turkish border.
“The regime’s attacks on Idlib are massacring innocent civilians and causing humanitarian tragedy,” the Turkish defense ministry said on Twitter.
“A response will be given in self-defense to any attempts that would jeopardize the security of our observation and control posts in the region,” the ministry added.
RELATED: Trump discusses Syria, Libya with Turkey’s Erdogan: White House
In December, al-Assad’s forces surrounded one of the Turkish posts in Idlib.
On an official visit to African country of Senegal, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said civilians were fleeing toward the Turkish border.
“There is a movement toward our border. We have taken our measures,” he said, adding that Turkey was building homes inside Syria for people fleeing Idlib.
“We are following the process with sensitivity. I hope we will reach peace in Idlib.”
Turkey, Russia talks over ‘secure zone’ in Syria’s Idlib to enforce ceasefire: TurkeyTurkey and Russia are discussing the establishment of a ‘secure zone’ within Syria’s northwestern Idlib region where Syrians ... Middle East
Turkey says will stop Syrian government violations of Idlib ceasefireTurkey is determined to stop Syrian government violations of a ceasefire in northwest Syria’s Idlib to prevent 400,000 people fleeing towards ... Middle East
Russian strikes kill eight civilians in Syria’s Idlib: MonitorRussian air strikes in Syria’s northwestern region of Idlib on Thursday killed eight civilians, including five children, a war monitor said.Five ... Middle East
Up to 40 Syrian soldiers killed, 80 wounded in Idlib attack: IfaxRussia’s defense ministry said on Thursday that hundreds of Syrian militants launched multiple attacks in Syria’s Idlib province, killing ... Middle East