Turkey’s foreign minister unsure of Syrian ceasefire after attack

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has cast doubt on a complete ceasefire in Syria’s Idlib district following an attack on an observation post, the state-run Anadolu Agency (AA) reported on Thursday.

Cavusoglu’s statement followed an attack on a Turkish observation point in the Syrian province, which the ministry claimed to have come from areas under Syria’s government control.

“Right now, it is not possible to say a full ceasefire is in place, but our efforts on this with Russia are continuing,” Cavusoglu said during a press conference with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian in Ankara.

The minister also refuted reports by Russian news agencies, which cited military sources of Russia, on Wednesday night that Ankara and Moscow brokered a truce in the de-escalation zone in Idlib.

Violence has escalated in the last few months in Idlib, the last major rebel-held province in Syria, due to armed clashes between rebel groups and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Cavusoglu also underlined that Turkey will do what is necessary if the Syrian regime continues the attacks and that it expects Russia to put pressure on the Syrian government as a guarantor country.

Turkish Defence Ministry said on Thursday that three Turkish soldiers were lightly wounded during an attack by mortar shells against Turkey’s 10th observation in Syria’s Idlib.

Russian authorities accused the al Qaeda linked Nusra Front of the attack on the Turkish observation post on Thursday.

Although the Nusra Front has not been active in Syria since 2017, it merged with other jihadist groups to form Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), one of the most powerful opposition groups in Idlib that controls most of the province.

Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Thursday their aircraft targeted terrorist positions in Idlib in four airstrikes using coordinates provided by Turkey following the attack.

“Using the coordinates provided by the Turkish side, four bomb strikes were carried out by the Russian Aerospace Forces aircraft. As a result, large concentrations of militants and field artillery positions from which the Turkish observation post had been shelled were destroyed,” the statement said.

In September, Turkey and Russia struck a deal to prevent a military assault of the Syrian government in Idlib, which hosts around three million internally displaced people.

Ankara agreed, as part of the deal, to create a demilitarised buffer zone and remove extremist fighters such as those belonging to HTS.

Syria’s attacks on Idlib could drive millions of Syrian civilians into Turkey


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