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Turkey tells Russia it will push ahead with Idlib operation against Syria regime Open in fullscreen

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Turkey tells Russia it will push ahead with Idlib operation against Syria regime

Turkish troops are ready to launch a new assault into Syria [Getty]

Date of publication: 18 February, 2020

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Turkey has massed troops on the Syria border, ready for an operation in Idlib province.
Turkey has informed Russia that it has completed preparations for a military operation in Idlib province and that troops were on ready to take on Syrian regime forces, Turkish state media reported on Tuesday.

Omer Celik, spokesperson for governing Justice and Development Party (AKP), told Anadolu news agency that unless Moscow's ally, Bashar Al-Assad, withdraws his forces areas recently taken from the opposition in Idlib province, then Turkish troops could take military action in Syria.

"Celik underlined that Russia, an ally of the Syrian regime, was 'clearly' informed about Turkey's stance in the region," the Turkish news agency report.

He said that Turkish officials told Russia that Turkey was ready to take military action if the Syrian regime did not withdraw past boundaries specified in a previous de-escalation deal, likely referring to the 2018 Sochi agreement.

The Syrian regime launched a bloody assault on opposition areas of Idlib and Aleppo provinces in December, ignoring a Russian-Turkish ceasefire.

Russia has aided the regime ground offensive with air strikes, leading to the killing hundreds of people and uprooting 900,000 civilians who have headed towards the closed Turkish border.

Hospitals, homes and schools have been targeted in the bombing, with Ankara urging regime troops to withdraw from Idlib province or face a military response.

Turkish and Russian officials have held two rounds of talks in a bid to avoid a direct confrontation, but the Syrian regime has pushed on with its offensive in Aleppo and Idlib provinces.
The UN has warned of a humanitarian crisis in Idlib province due to the regime assault and acknowledged that the vast majority of civilians deaths have been caused by regime forces.

"In all, since 1 January this year, during the Syrian government's latest major military offensive to retake key areas in Idlib and Aleppo, we have recorded the deaths of 299 civilians in this region of Syria," Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told reporters on Tuesday.

"Around 93 per cent of those deaths were caused by the Syrian government and its allies."

Whole towns and cities, such as Saraqeb and Maarat Al-Numan, have been emptied in the regime assault.

Hundreds of thousands of refugees - mostly children - have been forced to sleep outdoors in freezing temperatures due to camps being at full capacity.

At least 500,000 people have been killed in the Syria war, the vast majority civilians in regime assaults.

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