Turkish troops in Idlib, Syria

Erdoğan says an operation in Syria “is a matter of time”

Erdoğan warned that negotiations with Russia “are not reaching the desired results,” and promised that the Syrian province of Idlib will be a safe place for refugees “whatever the cost.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned on Wednesday that the negotiations between Turkey and Russia to stop the fighting in the Syrian province of Idlib and avoid a humanitarian catastrophe are not meeting Ankara’s expectations, and therefore a Turkish military operation in Syria is rather “a matter of time.”

“As with the previous operations (in Syria), we have said that ‘we can suddenly come one night’. In other words, an operation in Idlib is a matter of time,” said the Turkish president during a meeting with deputies from his AKP party in Ankara, referring to the previous Turkish offensives in Syria carried out between 2016 and 2019.

“We are reaching the last days for the Syrian regime to stop its hostilities in Idlib. We are making our final warnings,” insisted the Turkish president, who days ago gave an ultimatum to the Assad regime to withdraw to its previous positions in the region before the end of February. “Turkey has carried out all preparations to carry out its own operational plans in Idlib,” he added.

Erdoğan wanted to make clear in his speech that Ankara is determined that Idlib becomes a safe area for the millions of civilians who live there “no matter what the price”, and for the safety of both Syrians and Turkey itself; this despite the negotiations between Turkey and Russia – the latter a faithful ally of the Assad regime in Syria – which, however, are not giving the expected results.

“We have not achieved the desired results in our talks (with the Russians). The negotiations will continue, but it is true that we are far from fulfilling our demands,” Erdoğan explained.

Turkey willing to support the Tripoli government to regain control of Libya

On the other hand, during his appearance at the seat of parliament in Ankara, the Turkish president also referred to the worrying situation in Libya, where the Government of National Agreement (GNA) recognized by the United Nations and backed by Turkey abandoned the peace negotiations afterwards that General Haftar’s forces – which controls a large part of the country except Tripoli – bombarded the capital’s port.

Erdoğan stressed that Turkey continues to support the legitimate government of Libya recognised by the UN, the GNA, and said that if a fair agreement and a ceasefire is not achievedthat will stop the Haftar offensive – backed by countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, France or even Russia – over Tripoli, Turkey will not hesitate to intervene to help the GNA regain control over the rest of the country.