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Russia, Turkey At Odds Again In Syria

Russia, Turkey At Odds Again In Syria
 Daily changes in the Northwestern Syria offensive which started in November 2019, beginning in January 2020
Image by Nate Hooper

Since the downing of a Russian Su-24 attack jet in Syria by a Turkish F-16 in 2015, and the subsequent economic pressure by the Kremlin, Moscow and Ankara had been moving closer together, to the chagrin of NATO and The White House. Turkey even purchased the Russian-made S-400 anti-aircraft system and lost their ability to purchase the American stealth F-35 multirole fighter in the process.

However, Trump did not give up on Turkey and worked to bring Turkish President Erdogan back into the fold.

Turkish actions in Syria show that process may be working as Ankara is now threatening to further attack Russian-backed Syrian forces in Idlib, the border region between Turkey and Syria, which Turkey has called a redline for Shia expansion.

Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday a Turkish military operation to push back a Syrian government offensive against rebel strongholds in northwest Syria was now “a matter of time” after talks with Russia failed to halt the assault, reported Reuters.

Turkish troops have already massed inside Syria ready to act and more were heading to the border area.

Turkey’s possible military operation in the Syrian province of Idlib would be the worst scenario, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters when asked what Moscow’s reaction would be if Ankara launched an operation in Syria, reported Russian state news agency TASS.

“Let us not expect the worst scenario to become a reality,” he said.

The Kremlin spokesman added that “if it is an operation against Syria’s legitimate authorities and armed forces, it will definitely be the worst scenario.”

According to the Turkish leader, “despite ongoing talks on Idlib, Turkey and Russia are still far from reaching an agreement” on the issue. He added that the Ankara and Moscow negotiations “have not produced the desired results yet,” wrote TASS.

Erdogan emphasized that Ankara “is determined to pay any price to ensure security in both Idlib and Turkey.”

For the past several weeks, Ankara has been demanding that the Syrian army return to the positions outlined in the Sochi memorandum on Idlib. Erdogan has threatened to take steps to push Syrian troops back, wrote TASS.

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