Turkey won't remain silent as Syrian gov’t surrounds Turkish posts, says Erdoğan

Ankara will not remain silent while Syrian government forces surround Turkish military posts in Syria’s northwestern region of Idlib, Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan said on Saturday as Turkey and Russia, remain at loggerheads over the escalating conflict.

Turkey is doing "what is necessary’’ in response to the Syrian government forces, which have begun to encircle Turkish military posts, Erdoğan told a group of journaists on the way back to Turkey from Pakistan, NTV reported.

The Turkish president earlier this week said he was determined to make Russia-backed Syrian forces withdraw from areas in Idlib where Turkey has 12 observation posts, built under the 2018 Sochi deal with Russia that aimed to prevent an assault by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces on the country’s last major-rebel held enclave.

Russia-backed Syrian government forces launched an attack on Idlib in April, saying Turkey had failed to keep its side of the Sochi agreement and disarm jihadist groups in the province. Instead, Russia and the Syrian government say, extremists have expanded their control in Idlib.

A total of 13 Turkish military personnel were killed this month in the region after the Syrian government intensified its assault. Ankara responded by hitting scores of Syrian government targets.

Ankara wants Syrian forces to withdraw from areas beyond Turkey’s observation posts in Idlib, but under the 2018 deal with Russia. 

Talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the issue have been positive, Erdoğan told NTV, adding that U.S. statements of support for Turkey on Idlib “did not instill trust,” referring specifically to U.S. Special Envoy for Syria James Jeffrey.