Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned all options, including the most extreme ones, are on the table over the Syrian Army offensive against militants in Idlib province that may lead to more refugees crossing the border.
“We will not watch the situation in Syria… We will not hesitate to do whatever it takes, including using military force,” Erdogan said on Friday in Ankara. He claimed that attacks cause an influx of migrants into Turkey.
We will do what is necessary when someone is threatening our soil. We will have no choice but to resort to the same path again if the situation in Idlib is not returned to normal quickly.
On Tuesday, Syrian government forces entered a town south of Idlib city and had significant success in their fight against militants. Turkey warned that it would retaliate if any of its 12 observation posts around the city were caught in the crossfire.
Earlier this week, Erdogan claimed the Syrian offensive in Idlib – the last remaining militant stronghold in Syria – violates the ceasefire agreement brokered by Ankara and Moscow last year in Sochi. He also suggested that Russia should persuade Damascus to stop the attacks.
The Kremlin responded to his appeal on Friday, with presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov insisting that Russia “fully complies with all obligations under the Sochi agreements regarding the Idlib zone.” In the meantime, he said Moscow regrets “that the situation there leaves much to be desired.”
He said Damascus’ troops are targeting militants “who constantly carry out offensive actions against the Syrian Armed Forces as well as the Russian base in Khmeimim.