Numerous Russian airstrikes send thousands of Turkish troops to Idlib
ANKARA, ($1=8.67 Turkish Liras) – Ankara does not want a new wave of refugees on Turkish territory. This is the opinion of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. For this reason, Erdogan decided to send thousands of Turkish troops to northwestern Syria in Idlib province, learned BulgarianMilitary.com, citing Bloomberg.
The reason is the numerous air attacks by Russian space forces in the area. At the same time, the Syrian Arab Army, backed by its Russian counterparts, continues the offensive in Idlib.
“We can’t tolerate a new wave of refugees,” Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said during a visit to the Syrian border on Sept. 11, a day after Islamic militants killed three Turkish soldiers in Idlib. “We must do our best to prevent migration. The basis of this lies in making the region safe and stable. We are striving for that.”
Erdogan’s main idea is for the new military addition to help control Idlib and stop the Syrian army’s ground offensive. Erdogan also wants to control the main roads in the area.
However, Erdogan is beginning to face resistance in his country. The costs that the state budget absorbs and which are directed at the war in Syria are high. At the same time, nearly 4 million Syrian refugees live in Turkey. The costs for them are also high. Against the background of such costs and adding the economic crisis and the pandemic, it is quite logical for Erdogan to meet resistance among his political colleagues. But there is also growing discontent among the society in the country.
Bashar Assad wants it all over
Idlib is the last bastion of opposition resistance in Syria. The civil war, which has been going on for 10 years, is consuming unreal Syrian resources – human casualties, economic losses, political mistrust in the region, and serious infrastructural damage.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad wants this to end. Although, since the middle of last year in Idlib, the fighting positions of the warring parties have been static, Assad wants complete victory and control over the country. He has the support of his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. Putin said last week that the foreign presence in Syria was worrying, targeting Turkish troops and Ankara’s policies. He made the remarks during a meeting between him and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Vladimir Putin also wants the civil war to end. Of course, if that happens, Russia will lose its test site (Syria), where Moscow has tested dozens of new military developments in recent years. But on the other hand, it is no secret that Russia and Syria have an agreement to rebuild the country. This means a huge financial injection by Moscow in the implementation of infrastructure and energy projects.
Sending additional Turkish troops means Ankara is also preparing for a final defense, hoping that during this time Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan will reach an agreement. Hall this will happen – it’s hard to predict. It is more likely that Turkey will not get what it wants and will need to deal with a new wave of refugees.
On the political scene, the controversy between Ankara and Moscow is deepening. Russia’s foreign minister, for example, has accused Turkey of failing to comply with the 2018 agreement. It says Ankara is committed to separating radical Islamists from other opponents of Assad, or ordinary Syrians. Turkey has denied the allegation.
Just 48 hours ago, Erdogan raised another issue regarding the Syrian crisis. During his speech to the UN assembly, he said that “as a country that saved human dignity in the Syrian crisis, we have neither the means nor the patience to meet new immigration waves.”
Erdogan’s words were immediately countered by Moscow. “With Turkish troops acting as a deterrent, the most Syrian forces can do is recover step-by-step territory,” said Moscow-based Middle East expert Elena Suponina.
“Things haven’t changed fundamentally though there could be efforts to retake some specific areas,” she said.
The civil war in Syria
The Syrian civil war has been going on for almost a decade. Attempts by movements such as the Syrian Democratic Forces to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have failed.
The Syrian democratic forces are armed by allies and the United States, while the Syrian army is armed mainly by Russia. Russia is the only country officially invited to Syria by President Bashar al-Assad.
In 2017, the United States launched a massive missile strike on Bashar al-Assad’s forces after a report emerged that the Syrian president had used chemical weapons to attack his people in the country. Syria and Russia deny such actions.
During his tenure, US President Donald Trump decided to withdraw much of US troops from Syria, leaving several troops to guard Syria’s oil fields on the pretext of “falling into the hands of Islamic State.”
With the withdrawal of the United States, Turkey comes to the fore, declaring it necessary to deal with the Kurds and the PKK movement in the northern part of the country, which borders Turkey. That is why Erdogan is sending troops in an attempt to build a stable and secure 30km zone between Syria and Turkey, which will prevent future terrorist attacks on Turkish territory, as it is.
In February 2020, Turkey lost at least 62 troops killed in Syria. Nearly 100 soldiers were wounded, Syrian-backed forces destroyed dozens of Turkish armored vehicles, and more than ten drones, including drones, were shot down. Washington has repeatedly accused Moscow of involvement in the deaths of Turkish soldiers, Russia rejects these allegations.
In early March 2020, the presidents of Russia and Turkey, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, agreed that a ceasefire came into force in the Idlib de-escalation zone. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad later said that if the US and Turkish military did not leave the country, Damascus would use military power.
The reason for the Russian-Turkish negotiations was a sharp aggravation of the situation in Idlib, where in January, a large-scale offensive by the Syrian army against the positions of the armed opposition and terrorists began.
Government forces recaptured nearly half of the Idlib de-escalation zone and left behind several Turkish observation posts. After that, Ankara sharply increased its military contingent in the region and launched the operation “Spring Shield” to push the Syrian troops. Militants are loyal to Ankara and support Turkey.
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