Turkey vows to retaliate in strongest manner if attacked in Syria
Photo by Turkey's National Defense Ministry via AA
“In the event of a new attack, the proper response will be given in the strongest manner based on the right of self-defense,” the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry also said Turkish observation posts in Idlib “continue their duties and are capable of protecting themselves with the weapons and equipment they possess.”
On Feb. 3, an Assad regime attack in Idlib, northwestern Syria, killed seven Turkish soldiers and one civilian contractor working with the Turkish military and injured over a dozen people.
In retaliation, Turkey struck over 50 targets and killed 76 Syrian soldiers.
Idlib has been a stronghold of opposition and anti-government armed groups since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011.
In September 2018, Turkey and Russia agreed to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.
But more than 1,800 civilians there have been killed in attacks by the regime and Russian forces since then, flouting both the 2018 cease-fire and a new one that started on Jan. 12
More than 1.5 million Syrians have moved near the Turkish border due to intense attacks over the past year.
Turkey remains the country with most refugees in the world, hosting more than 3.7 million migrants since the start of the Syrian civil war.
More YPG/PKK terrorist fire on Turkish forces
In a separate statement on Feb. 8, the ministry said that the PKK/YPG terror group continues its harassment fire against Turkish forces in the area of Turkey's latest anti-terror operation in northern Syria.
“Despite the agreement with the Russian Federation of Oct. 22, 2019, PKK/YPG terrorists continue their presence in the western and eastern regions of the [Operation] Peace Spring area and conduct harassment fire against our elements,” the ministry said in a statement.
This harassment is “properly reciprocated” by Turkish forces, it added.
Since 2016, Turkey has launched a trio of successful anti-terrorist operations across its border into northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terrorist corridor there: Operations Euphrates Shield, Olive Branch, and Peace Spring.
Last October, Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate YPG/PKK terrorists from northern Syria east of the Euphrates River in order to secure Turkey's borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees, and ensure Syria's territorial integrity.
Ankara wants YPG/PKK terrorists to withdraw from the region so a safe zone can be created to pave the way for the safe return of some two million refugees.
On Oct. 22, Ankara and Moscow reached a deal under which YPG/PKK terrorists would pull back 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) south of Turkey's border with Syria, and security forces from Turkey and Russia would mount joint patrols there.
Despite this, YPG/PKK attacks have continued in the region.
The U.S.-backed SDF, a group dominated by the YPG, has been controlling some 28 percent of the Syrian territories, including most of the 911-kilometer-long Syria-Turkey border.
Turkey deems the YPG the Syrian offshoot of the illegal PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization also by the United States and the EU.