Turkey is planning to deploy more troops to Syria’s Idlib province in retaliation to attacks carried out by the Syrian government forces, Turkish Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Tuesday.
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A Turkish delegation met Russian counterparts for a second day of talks in Moscow on Tuesday, with no apparent agreement on Idlib, where a push in recent weeks by Russian-backed Syrian government forces has killed several Turkish troops and led to mass displacement of civilians.
“We will continue the deployment and fortification of troops in the area to ensure the safety of the region (Idlib) and the civilians there,” Kalin told reporters in Ankara.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that Turkey will not be withdrawing from its military observation posts in the Idlib and Aleppo provinces.
These Turkish observation posts are currently besieged by the Syrian military and a point of contention between Ankara and Damascus, as the latter has demanded Turkey immediately withdraw from all areas in Syria.
Turkey, in contrast, claims that their presence in Syria is due to the terrorist threat posed near their border and not because they are trying to occupy Syrian territories.
Ankara considers the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and People's Protection Units (YPG), two predominately Kurdish-led groups, to be terrorist entities loyal to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
The U.S. previously backed the YPG and SDF in northern Syria, but later abandoned them after Erdogan met with his counterpart Donald Trump.