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AFP
February 27, 2020

Erdogan rules out ‘smallest step back’ in Syria’s Idlib

World

AFP
February 27, 2020

ISTANBUL: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday vowed Turkey would not take the "smallest step back" in an escalating stand-off with Damascus and Russia over the northern Syrian region of Idlib.

Meanwhile, a meeting between Erdogan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, is expected to take place, the Turkish foreign minister, ahead of a possible summit including EU heavyweights Germany and France to find a political solution to the Idlib crisis.

"We will not take a smallest step back in Idlib, we will certainly push the regime outside the borders we designated, and ensure the return of the people to their homes," Erdogan told ruling party´s lawmakers in parliament in Ankara.

As part of deals with Russia -- a key supporter of President Bashar al-Assad -- rebel backer Turkey has 12 observation posts in Idlib but several have come under fire from Assad forces.

Ankara has confirmed as many as 17 Turkish security personnel have been killed this month alone. Erdogan bluntly warned the Syrian regime to "stop its attacks as soon as possible" and to pull back by the end of February. "The time we have given to those who besieged our observation towers is running out," Erdogan said.