Military

Russia accuses Turkey of violating Syria deal, supporting rebels with artillery

The Russian defence ministry on Thursday accused Turkey of violating a peace deal for Syria’s Idlib by supporting rebels with artillery fire and drones.



“In violation of the Sochi agreements in the Idlib de-escalation zone the Turkish side is continuing to support illegal armed groups with artillery fire and the use” of drones to target the Syrian troops, the ministry said, quoting the head of the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria, Oleg Zhuravlev.



The ministry added that on Tuesday a Turkish drone violated Syria’s borders but was destroyed as it prepared to strike Syrian troops.



Russia and Turkey in 2018 agreed to create a demilitarised zone in Idlib but the accord has fallen apart as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces move to recapture the last big region beyond his control.



The epicentre of the nearly nine-year long conflict in Syria, Idlib has in recent weeks become the theatre of conflict between Turkey, which supports rebel groups in the area, and the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which is backed by Russia.




The United States called Thursday on Turkey to learn from clashes in Syria who its true friends are and drop its purchase from Russia of a major missile defense system.



Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday called an urgent meeting after at least nine Turkish troops were killed in an air strike in Syria’s Idlib region.



Russia is backing a devastating offensive by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Idlib against rebel groups backed by Ankara.



Kay Bailey Hutchison, the US ambassador to NATO, said the Turks should see “who is their reliable partner and who isn’t.”



Turkey, a member of the Western alliance, defiantly began receiving deliveries last year of Russia’s S-400 missile system despite US warnings and eviction from the F-16 fighter-jet program.



“I hope that President Erdogan will see that we are the ally of their past and their future and they need to drop the S-400,” Hutchison told reporters in Washington.



“They see what Russia is, they see what they’re doing now, and if they are attacking Turkish troops, then that should outweigh everything else that is happening between Turkey and Russia,” she said.



Russia and Turkey agreed in 2018 to create a demilitarized zone in Idlib in an accord that has since fallen through.



The US says the S-400 system will hurt NATO by allowing Russia to improve its tracking of Western aircraft.



Turkey insists it will set up the S-400 in areas not frequented by US jets and it has not yet put the system into operation, giving Washington hope that Ankara may still change its mind.



Turkey hitting Syrian regime positions after soldiers killed in Idlib: presidency
Ankara (AFP) Feb 27, 2020 -
Turkey was retaliating against the Syrian regime after 22 Turkish soldiers were killed in an air strike blamed on Damascus, an official said Friday, as he urged the international community to fulfil its responsibilities.



“All known targets of the regime have come and will continue to come under fire from the air and ground,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s communications director, Fahrettin Altun, said in a statement.



“We urge the international community to fulfil its responsibilities,” Altun added, to stop the regime’s “crimes against humanity”.



“We cannot stand by and watch as past events in Rwanda, and Bosnia and Herzegovina are repeated today in Idlib,” Altun said.



Turkey’s activities on the ground in Syria would continue, he added.



Syrian rebel supporter Ankara has 12 observation posts in Idlib, set up after a 2018 deal with Damascus ally Russia in a bid to prevent a regime offensive.



But despite the agreement, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has pressed ahead with an assault to retake the last rebel-held bastion, backed by Russian air support.



The latest incident means a total of 42 Turkish security personnel have been killed this month in Idlib.



Ruling party spokesman Omer Celik told CNN Turk broadcaster on Friday that Turkey was “fed up with condemnations and statements,” adding Ankara sought “concrete” action from its international partners.



“The regime elements are now an enemy element for the Turkish Republic,” Celik added. “This is not just an attack on Turkey, but an attack on international law, the international community.”



Some soldiers were injured after the latest incident and taken to hospital in Turkey for treatment, local officials said, without giving exact figures.



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The coalition “carried out a unique military operation to destroy legitima … read more


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