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  • Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attends a welcoming ceremony at the Mariyinsky Palace in Kiev, Ukraine February 3, 2020.

    Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attends a welcoming ceremony at the Mariyinsky Palace in Kiev, Ukraine February 3, 2020. | Photo: Reuters

Published 4 February 2020

The Turkish military struck 40 Syrian military targets in Idlib during their retaliatory response on Monday, President Erdogan told the media. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated on Tuesday that Russia needs to restrain the Syrian military forces in Idlib after the recent hostilities killed some Turkish military personnel.

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Erdogan warned that the Syrian military was causing significant issues in Idlib over their recent offensive, pointing out that Turkey will not stand idly while the government forces press forward inside this province.

Despite Turkey's anger over the actions of the Syrian military, Erdogan said his nation's relationship with Russia would not be harmed by the recent flare-up of violence in Syria's Idlib province.

“There is no need for us to be engaged in a conflict or a serious contradiction with Russia at this stage,” he was quoted as telling reporters on a flight from Ukraine.

“We will of course sit down and discuss everything. Not with anger, though. Because those who sit down with anger, get up with losses,” Erdogan added.

The two countries support opposing sides in Syria’s nearly nine-year war, as well as in Libya’s escalating conflict, but have worked together to contain some of the bloodshed and have forged close defense ties in recent years.

An attack by Russian-backed Syrian government forces that killed eight Turkish military personnel on Monday posed the biggest challenge to Russian-Turkish ties since their 2018 deal to stem fighting in Syria’s northwest Idlib region.

Erdogan told Russian forces on Monday there to “stand aside” while Turkey struck dozens of targets in retaliation. Moscow and Ankara then argued about whether Turkey had told Russia it was sending waves of reinforcements into Idlib.

Analysts said the relationship should survive the testy spell even while risks remained on the ground in Syria. Turkey, which already hosts 3.6 million refugees, fears Russian air strikes and a recent northward surge by Syrian troops threaten to send millions more refugees towards its border.

A Turkish security official said clashes between Turkish and Syrian forces continued intermittently on Tuesday around Saraqeb, a town 15 km (9 miles) east of Idlib city.

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