Erdoğan says time running out on Syria, Assad forces must withdraw

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said a February deadline for Syrian forces to withdraw to previously agreed positions in the province of Idlib was fast running out.

Syrian President Bashar Assad must pull back the fighters from positions around Turkish military observation posts and honour an agreement made with Russia in Sochi in late 2018, Erdoğan told members of his governing party in a televised speech at parliament in Ankara on Wednesday.

“We will not take even the smallest step backward and will push the regime back to the lines we have defined,” Erdoğan said. “We are demanding that the regime stop its attacks.”

Turkey’s biggest problem was its lack of access to Syrian airspace, an issue it was attempting to resolve, Erdoğan said.

“We have no designs on Syria’s territory or its oil,” he said. “We are not in search of adventure beyond our borders. Quite the opposite, we are attempting to secure our own borders.”

The president slammed some Turks for saying that Assad had launched the offensive to defend Syrian territory. Those people have sold themselves out to imperialists, are providing services to Turkey’s enemies and cannot be considered “children of the nation”, he said.