Erdogan vies for leverage in Syria’s Idlib as Turkish troops reinforce positions

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan doubled down on threats to retaliate against Russian-backed Syrian forces in Idlib, where an ongoing government offensive has escalated tensions between Ankara and Damascus.

Recent clashes between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Turkish troops stationed at observation posts in Idlib left 14 Turkish soldiers and personnel dead, drawing a strong rebuke from lawmakers in Ankara.

“If any harm comes to our troops at the observation posts or anywhere else, we will hit the regime forces anywhere, without limiting ourselves to Idlib and to the boundaries of the Sochi Memorandum,” Erdogan said Wednesday during a Justice and Development Party (AKP) meeting in the Turkish capital.

He added that Syrian regime forces must pull back beyond Turkish observation posts by the end of month, returning to boundaries set by the Sochi agreement in an effort to stem violence that has sent hundreds of thousands of civilians fleeing for safety along the Turkish border.

“To achieve that, we will do whatever is necessary on the ground and in the air without any hesitation and without allowing any stalling,” Erdogan said.

Read the full story on Al Monitor.