Erdogan threatens Assad forces, seeks de-escalation in Idlib

Amid an ongoing offensive in Idlib that has displaced half a million civilians, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to act against Russian-backed Syrian forces if they did not fall back from Turkish observation posts by the end of the month.

“We want the regime to immediately retreat to the borders stipulated by the Sochi agreement — in other words, to retreat behind our observation posts,” Erdogan said in the Turkish Parliament Wednesday.

He added that if the forces failed to pull back from 12 Turkish observation posts, two of which have been surrounded by Syrian troops, “Turkey itself will have to take over the matter.”

It is the latest development following Monday’s clashes between Turkish and forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that left at least eight Turkish soldiers and 13 Syrian soldiers dead. The statement comes as a Syrian offensive has increased tensions on the ground in Syria while straining diplomatic relations between Ankara and Moscow, who have sought to de-escalate fighting Idlib, the last rebel-held enclave in the nation’s nine-year-old conflict.

Read the full story on Al Monitor.