Erdogan Vows to Risk Everything to Save Idlib for al-Qaeda, Reiterates February-End Deadline for Syrian-Russian Retreat

Whether it's a bluff or a threat — Erdogan is doubling down on it

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reiterated his deadline to push Syrian government forces away from Ankara’s military observation posts in the northwestern province of Idlib by the end of this week.

Addressing a meeting of the ruling AK Party’s parliamentary group on Wednesday, Erdogan said Turkey was prepared to “risk all kinds of sacrifices” to ensure the outposts were freed.

“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 said during the meeting.

Nearly one million Syrians have been displaced in the last three months by fighting between Turkish-backed rebels and Damascus’ Russian-backed military which is trying to recapture the last major rebel-held region in Syria after nine years of war.

“Our biggest problem right now is our inability to use [Syrian] airspace [which is controlled by Russia]. God willing, we will soon find a solution for this,” the president said.

Patriot request

Middle East Eye reported last week that Turkey had asked the US to temporarily deploy its Patriot missile defence system to Hatay and conduct aerial patrols to deter Russia.

Erdogan said that he believed the US doesn’t have any ready-to-deploy systems among its arsenal. Several Pentagon officials told the media that they had not made any decision on the request yet.

Turkish officials expect any Patriot deployment to come with conditions due to Turkey’s previous purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defence system, which is sanctionable under US law.

Since the beginning of the month, Turkey has poured hundreds of tanks, howitzers and advanced weaponry into Idlib in support of its military presence there in order to counter a Syrian government offensive that has left more than a dozen Turkish soldiers dead.

As Syria has continued to retake more territory, Syrian and Russian air strikes have displaced more than 900,000 civilians, who have headed towards the Turkish border.

‘We will not take the slightest step back’

Erdogan said a third round of negotiations with Russian officials would continue on Wednesday in Ankara, but accused Moscow of failing to understand the civilian suffering in Idlib.

“This region has engulfed many who consider themselves great, like a whirlwind, before they even knew what happened,” Erdogan said.

“We will not take the slightest step back in Idlib. We will push the [Syrian] regime beyond the borders that we have determined, and we will ensure the return of the people to their homes.

“As Turkey, we are committed to this issue and we will risk all kinds of sacrifices.”

Earlier this week, Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces captured the key town of Nairab, but on Tuesday they also lost Kafranbel, a symbolic town that was among the first to rebel against Damascus.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based activist group, reported on Wednesday that Syrian government forces, backed by Russian air strikes, have also seized another 18 nearby towns and villages in the past 48 hours.

A Turkish official told MEE earlier this week that the strategic town of Saraqeb, where Turkish special forces are currently encircled by government forces, would be the next to be captured by the Turkish-backed rebels.

The official said the attacks against the Syrian government-held areas would begin slowly but intensify in time.

“The best way to get out of this crisis is to reach a deal that would enable the opposition to get back the territory it has lost,” the source said.

“But if that doesn’t happen, as Erdogan has said, Turkey is doomed to be in this fight.”

Turkish officials have repeatedly pointed out that Turkey currently hosts around 3.7 million Syrian refugees within its borders and would not tolerate a further influx of Syrians to a country where recent polls suggest nearly 60 percent of the population has anti-Syrian sentiments.

Source: Middle East Monitor

  1. cechas vodobenikov says

    r the turks emulating amerikans?—the self uglified amerikan, despised everywhere, except perhaps canada. is there role model for turks?…apparently the turks have created enemies not just among europeans but also Egypt, Iran, Libya, Armenia, even Israel….will the tatars HTS, al Qaeda or Azeris rescue them from themselves? surprisingly the USA seems not willing to support them….

  2. Séamus Ó Néill says

    Erdogan doesn’t seem to be the most intelligent nor capable person, a person completely devoid of morals or scruples. He has from the very beginning supported and backed the various branches of the amoral, demonic head choppers. He and his gangster family benefited greatly from the ISIS convoys of stolen Syrian oil, protected, of course, by the American scumbags. Russia, almost overnight, put an end to that criminality. However, even after Putin saved his bacon, he can’t help being a two faced untrustworthy, contemptible slug and his demise is staring him in the face. Russia has given him many opportunities to back off and save face but he doesn’t seem to have the acumen to realise this.

    1. temujin1970 says

      I could not have put it better myself. The man is the worst type pf psychopathic back stabbing low life, and that’s saying something in a world where we are ruled by the very worst type of “people” .
      I do not see him dying in his bed as an old man. The Americans have already tried to kill him and they know that he is an unreliable partner. God knows how many enemies he has waiting in the wings for their chance to remove him from the scene permanently.

      1. scanfish says

        I think the Turkish military will finally say enough and remove the cretin. Provoking Russia in Idlib is madness, the Turkish army has no experience fighting unlike the now extremely competent Syrian army, and if Erdogan makes good his harebrained threats, the Turks will be annihilated, with no NATO nation coming to its aid, not even the US. I wouldn’t be surprised if Russia’s FSB is working on exactly such a scenario, considering they saved the fool’s a** just in time last time.

    2. Canosin says

      what were you expecting from a perverted and deranged goatfucker like Erabid”dog”an….. same as from his own family…..since these Turkish people voting for him are scumbags as well…(which is no wonder. as direct descentants from wandering whores of the Asian steppe……these goatfuckers were outcasts of central Asia….nobody liked them…. till to these days …)

  3. jm74 says

    Syria should offer safe passage for those occupying the observation posts back to Turkey then Erdogan’s arguments to liberate them falls to pieces.

    1. Mary E says

      And those retreating Turks should be under heavy, armed escort!

  4. David Chu says

    Erdogan vows to risk everything (everyone else’s skin) to save Idlib for . . . himself! The Turks are again demonstrating their inner turkey nature!

  5. Mary E says

    Obviously, Turkey isn’t really expecting the US military to come to its aid with troops or anything else…because they know that the US has what they went there for: OIL…
    and they are holding onto their expensive piece of land like a pit bull, ot caring what happens to Turkey…why should they?

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