Erdogan Demands Syrian Withdrawal in Idlib
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is calling for a withdrawal by Syrian government troops from lines they have reached in Idlib Province since unleashing a furious offensive there in December. “If they do not withdraw to lines Turkey has determined as soon as possible, they will not have a head left on their shoulders,” Erdogan said on Monday during a speech to party loyalists in Ankara. His tough words followed the downing on Sunday of two Russian attack jets by Turkish warplanes in the skies of Idlib. Russia has been providing Syrian units with air and other support during their offensive. Erdogan says he is traveling to Moscow on Thursday to meet with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in an attempt to reach a cease-fire in the province, where Ankara maintains military observation posts. “I hope that [Putin] will take the necessary measures there, such as a ceasefire, and that we will find a solution to this affair,” he stated. Ankara is also wary of the estimated 1 million non-combatants who have been displaced by the offensive in Syria and has put pressure on Europe by allowing tens of thousands of refugees already inside Turkey’s borders to head for the frontier with Greece.