Syria demands ’immediate’ withdrawal of Turkish troops
DAMASCUS – Agence France-Presse
Syria has demanded the “immediate and unconditional withdrawal” of Turkish troops that have deployed in the country’s northwestern province of Idlib, state media reported on Oct. 14, citing a Foreign Ministry source.
Turkish troops entered Idlib on Oct. 12 night as part of efforts to enforce a so-called “de-escalation zone” agreed by rebel-backer Ankara and regime allies Russia and Iran at talks in Astana earlier this year.
But the Syrian Foreign Ministry source slammed the “Turkish aggression,” saying it had “nothing whatsoever to do with the understandings reached by the guarantor countries in the Astana process.”
The source added that the deployment was “a violation of these understandings and a departure from them,” adding that “the Turkish regime must abide by what was agreed in Astana.”
Turkey’s military said on Oct. 13 it had begun “activities to establish observation posts on Oct. 12,” days after Turkish troops launched a reconnaissance mission in Idlib.
Around 100 soldiers, including special forces, had reportedly entered Idlib along with 30 armored vehicles.
And a new convoy entered on Oct. 14, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor.
The “de-escalation” zone in Idlib is the one of four agreed in Astana and the last to be implemented. Idlib is one of the last major areas of Syria beyond the control of the government, which has recaptured vast swathes of territory from opposition fighters since its ally Russia intervened on its behalf in September 2015.
Turkey has entered in Syria before, last year launching its Euphrates Shield Operation targeting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Kurdish fighters.