Syria: Turkey will not take "the slightest step back" in Idleb
At least 20 civilians were killed on February 25 in the province of Idleb, which brings together 1 million civilians displaced by the conflict. Abdulaziz KETAZ / AFP
Text by: RFI Follow
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday (February 26th) ruled out "the slightest step backwards" against the Bashar al-Assad regime in northwestern Syria and displayed his intransigence before further talks with the ally Russian from Damascus.
" We will not take the slightest step backwards, we will push the regime outside the borders that we have set, " said Recep Tayyip Ergodan during a speech to the deputies of his party, the AKP, in Ankara.
The Turkish head of state reiterated his ultimatum to the Syrian regime forces that he summons to withdraw from certain positions in the Idleb region by the end of February, threatening if not to force them. The regime of Bashar al-Assad, supported by Russia, has been waging an offensive since December in Idleb, the last stronghold of the opposition in Syria .
End of ultimatum
In addition to a serious humanitarian crisis, the advance of Syrian forces has provoked a crisis with Turkey, which supports rebel groups. Several Turkish military posts are now surrounded by Syrian forces. “ The deadline we have given for leaving the areas where our observation posts are surrounded is coming to an end. We are planning to somehow release these observation posts by the end of February, "said Erdogan.
The crisis between Ankara and Damascus has also sparked friction between Turkey and Russia. Erdogan said on February 26 that " Turkey's biggest problem in Idleb is not being able to use the airspace ", which is controlled by Moscow. " We will soon find a solution to this, " he added, without giving further details.
The noose tightens around the province of Idleb
On February 25 in the province of Idleb, the city of Kafranbel was recaptured by the regime. At least 20 civilians have been killed in this area, which includes 1 million civilians displaced by the conflict . Ahmad Ibrahim, doctor for the UOSSM, Union of Relief and Medical Care Organizations, in the province of Idleb, describes how the situation is deteriorating day by day: “ The attacks have intensified in the Idleb region. The regime is advancing rapidly south of the city. The villages fall one after the other. On February 25, the city of Kafranbel fell into the hands of the regime. The troops entered the city. However, we had an emergency center there as well as blood supplies for transfusions. But the city fell due to the massive bombing. No one knows exactly what the situation is on the ground . "
Many people fled, residents of Kafranbel but also refugees from other regions, said the doctor. On the same day, the town of Maaret Masrine was also targeted by Russian planes: “ A school was targeted, 3 teachers died as well as a schoolgirl. The region is surrounded and the vice tightens more and more. The situation is dire. "
EU calls for ' de-escalation '
In a column published in the daily Le Monde , 14 European Union countries call on Ankara and Moscow to " de-escalate " in the Syrian rebel province of Idleb. In this tribune, the countries warned that the fight against terrorism invoked by Moscow, which supports the military offensive of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the province, cannot justify the massive violations of international humanitarian law: " We call on Russia to continue negotiations with Turkey in order to achieve de-escalation in Idleb and contribute to a political solution . ”
The two countries had signed in 2018 in Sochi, Russia, an agreement providing for the end of the fighting and the election of Turkish observation posts in the Idleb region. But this arrangement has been shattered for the past few weeks and the two sides are blaming each other for its implosion. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov rejected calls for a ceasefire, saying it would be a " surrender to the terrorists ".
“ We are perfectly clear about the presence of radical groups in Idleb. We will never take the problem of terrorism lightly: we fight it with determination, ”noted the signatories of the tribune.
French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merekl have called for the organization of a summit on Syria with Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Poutine.
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