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Turkey’s Erdogan: Despite Talks, Offensive in Syria ‘Matter of Time’

Although talks with Russia over a cease-fire by government forces in northwestern Syria are to continue, Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, believes a Turkish offensive there is “only a matter of time.” Erdogan was speaking on Wednesday to political associates in Ankara. “We are entering the last days for the [Syrian] regime to stop its hostilities in Idlib [Province]. We are making our final warnings,” he was quoted as saying. Erdogan added that Turkey was still “far from meeting our demands” in the talks with Russia, which is Syria’s main military backer. “Turkey has made every preparation to carry out its own operational plans. I say that we can come at any point. In other words, the Idlib offensive is only a matter of time.” Idlib Province is one of the last rebel strongholds in Syria’s civil war, which will go into its tenth year in March. The Syrian military, with Russian backing, began its Idlib offensive in December, encircling Turkish observation posts and uprooting hundreds of thousands of civilians, most of them heading toward Turkey.