Syrian regime threatens to 'eliminate' surrounded Turkish observation post
The threat came after a regime advance on Friday which captured a string of villages in northern Hama. The villages had previously been strongholds of anti-Assad rebels.
Turkey has maintained 12 military observation posts in rebel-held Idlib and northern Hama provinces since 2017, to monitor the Astana de-escalation agreement.
The Syrian regime launched an ongoing assault on Idlib and northern Hama in April 2019, in violation of the agreement, killing hundreds of civilians and forcing hundreds of thousands more to flee their homes.
The observation post in Morek was surrounded by the Syrian army on Friday following the regime advance.
Bouthaina Shaaban, a policy and media advisor to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and a former cabinet minister, told Al-Mayadeen TV that "the Turkish post in Morek is besieged and the Syrian army will be able to eliminate all the Turkish posts and eliminate the terrorists."
The Syrian regime habitually refers to all its opponents as terrorists. Shaaban accused Turkey of using the observation posts to transfer weapons to "terrorists" and described them as "posts of occupation".
The regime's ally Russia also maintains observation posts and military bases in Syria and carries out airstrikes on civilian areas alongside the regime.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavosuglu denied on Friday that the post was besieged, saying "no one can besiege our troops".
Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said that the observation post would not be removed from Morek.
On Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, of a humanitarian crisis in Idlib.
The lives of three million people in the province are at risk, according to the UN. The two presidents are set to meet later this month to discuss Syria.