Erdogan Rages Against Russia and the Syrian Idlib Offensive Steamrolling Al-Qaeda

Has gone so far as to threaten "unilateral action" if Putin doesn't stop the Syrians for him

“If we are loyal partners, then Russia should take up a position. It will either pursue a different track with Syria or with Turkey. There is no other way”

Editor’s note: Keep in mind Turkey has never been able to uphold its end of the bargain and get the non-AQ rebels to break with AQ rebels. Instead, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham has never been more dominant in Idlib. Erdogan doesn’t have a leg to stand on. He does command a big and important state however with which for Russia, under assault by the US-led West, better relations are preferable to poorer relations. However, since Erdogan’s relations with the West are likewise poor it’s not as if he has many alternatives or he wouldn’t be treating with a historic enemy to begin with.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has warned Russia that Turkey was running out of patience regarding the continued offensive by the Syrian army in Idlib and will take unilateral actions to stop it if Moscow fails to persuade Bashar al-Assad’s regime to cease the military operations in the last rebel-held enclave.

“We had some meetings with Russia in Sochi and Astana that produced some agreements [on Idlib]. We will faithfully continue to implement them should Russia stick to the agreements as well. Unfortunately, Russia is not abiding by the deals of Astana and Sochi,” Erdoğan told journalists traveling with him on his return from a three-day Africa tour on Jan. 30.

Informing that talks with the Russian authorities are ongoing on Idlib and the primary message given to them is “Our patience is running thin. We will do whatever necessary if these bombardments do not stop,” Erdoğan stated.

Turkey has shown a strong reaction against the intensified military operations of the Syrian army against the opposition groups inside Idlib which have triggered a new refugee influx towards the Turkish border.

The Syrian army captured the second largest city in Idlib after a massive attack on Jan. 29. Russia and Syria say the offensive was against the radical jihadist groups in the enclave. There are strong criticisms against both nations as they also target civilians in the region.

“If we are loyal partners, then Russia should take up a position. It will either pursue a different track with Syria or with Turkey. There is no other way,” he said.

Turkey and Russia had agreed to establish a de-escalation zone in Idlib through a deal brokered in Sochi. The deal stipulates a ceasefire between the regime and the opposition forces. However, Idlib is also the last stronghold of groups like al-Nusra and Tahrir al-Sham, and the deal does not cover these organizations. [Actually HTS is the largest group by far and exercises hegemony over the others.]

Russia and Syria argue that these groups have expanded their influence in the area and that they were attacking nearby Russian and Syrian military facilities.

“Russians say, ‘We are fighting against terrorists.’ Who are terrorists? Those who are defending their lands? They are insurgents. Are all the four million Syrians in Turkey terrorists too? Where did they come from? They escaped Assad’s cruelty?” he stated.

Astana process collapsed

On a question whether the Idlib standoff could be resolved through the Astana process which brings Turkey, Russia and Iran as three guarantor countries, Erdoğan stressed that the Astana process has ended. “The Astana process is in silence. We should see what we can do to revive the Astana process with Russia and Iran,” he said.

The real destination should be Geneva, where the U.N. leads inter-Syrian constitutional talks, Erdoğan said, adding the need to accelerate efforts for a political breakthrough in Syria.

Regime forces enter key rebel-held town

Syrian regime forces on Jan. 28 entered a key rebel-held town in the country’s northwest after surrounding it on three sides, sending thousands of people fleeing to safety in areas farther north, a war monitor and state media said.

Heavy clashes broke out between rebels and government forces in Maarat al-Numan after the forces entered the town south of Idlib city, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, after earlier reporting that the troops backed by Russian air strikes had taken full control.

The town of Maaret al-Numan, which has been in rebel hands since 2012, sits on the highway linking Damascus with Aleppo. Syrian troops were keeping a road leading west out of the town open, apparently to give insurgents a chance to withdraw.

Turkey vows to retaliate

Turkey’s Defense Ministry said Turkish forces would retaliate “in the strongest way, without hesitation” against any attack on its observation posts in Idlib by Assad’s forces.

Turkey, which has a 911-kilometer border with Syria along its southern frontier, has 12 military observation posts in the region [the “region” being Syria’s Idlib], under a deal with Moscow and Tehran in 2017.

The Syrian regime’s forces on Dec. 23, 2019, surrounded one of 12 Turkish observation posts in the region. After the regime’s capture of Al-Surman town, in the southeast of Idlib, the eighth observation post of Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in the village was surrounded. Another Turkish observation post in the town of Morek was also surrounded in August, leaving two TSK posts within the regime’s territory.

The violence came as the U.N. special envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, arrived in the capital Damascus to meet with officials. Pedersen is expected to talk during his visit about activating the constitutional committee whose job is to draft a new constitution for the country.

The 150-member committee met in Geneva in October but has failed for make progress.

Source: Hurriyet Daily News

  1. stevek9 says

    Is there someone that understands Turkey and can explain why they don’t just abandon the jihadi’s, get out of Idlib, and hopefully start returning refugees to Syria? Wouldn’t that work well for them? The Kurdish question could be dealt with separately, but even there I would think that for Syria to regain total control of the country, and border, and assure Turkey of controlling the Kurds in Syria (Syrian border guards on one side and Turks on the other), that would also be a good arrangement for Turkey. I realize this is simplistic, and I’m missing something, but …

    1. Marko Marjanović says

      That indeed would be the fastest way to solve the refugee problem. Thing is as an Islamist he actually isn’t opposed to many of those refugees staying, betting they would assimilate, become his voters, and also make southern Turkey less Kurdish, so it’s actually a less urgent problem for him than he likes to claim when he’s complaining about Syrian offensives or asking the EU for funds.

      1. stevek9 says


  2. Nassim7 says

    Erdogan has made so many promises that he has never kept. He is the godfather of all these terrorists. Now that he is losing, he is afraid that his godchildren will want to come to Turkey. Heaven forbid! Hilarious.

    I hope one of his favourite terrorists takes a shot at him with a roadside bomb or a drone. Maybe the Americans will do it. He has few friends left.

    1. Marko Marjanović says

      “Terrorist Godfather” I think I’m going to use this the nex time.

  3. thomas malthaus says

    Who knows what could happen if Turkey exits NATO and Erdogan forcibly removes NATO from Incirlik and other bases.

    A Sunni-Ottoman-US-Israel empire isn’t in the cards if Russia, Syria, China, and Iran have significant influence.

  4. CHUCKMAN says

    “The Sick Man of Europe” was a name for the Ottoman Empire after WWI.

    Today, the name still applies to Turkey, but directly to its leader.

    Erdogan is as mad in his way as Trump.

  5. cechas vodobenikov says

    Turkey attempt to play a double game, using Turkmen militias, HTS etc as proxies—the so called “moderate insurgents”. Their game is a loser

  6. jm74 says

    One can recall Erdogans’ word that Turkey respects Syrian sovereignty and that was confirmed by Putin also. Russia abides and conforms with International law and the UN Charter, Erdogan should try it.

    1. temujin1970 says

      Erdogan is a two faced duplicitous dog. Very much like his american masters. NOTHING that he says can be trusted or taken at face value.

    2. getreal155 says

      Turkey is an opportunistic aggressor. Totally unreliable by nature and Interested only in expanding their power and influence.

      1. David Bedford says

        He should also get out of Libya

        1. Canosin says

          the goatf*ackers must leave…..(“should”) is very soft

  7. Mary E says

    If only Erdogan was the upstanding world citizen that he claims to be!
    Turkey has had enough help from Russia – and now it should just butt out of Syria and
    let that Sovereign nation get some peace….Just stay home and protect your lands from the US and Trump, who has a couple of legs in already with his hotel project(s)..If Ergogan was intelligent, which he is not by the looks of how he does ‘business’, he would not allow Trump to continue with his plans in Turkey…..and he would make a choice between Russia and the US to side with…he can’t ride this rail down the middle much longer and get away with it.

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