Feb 18, 2020 18:45 UTC
  • Turkey beefs up military presence in Syria amid Russia spat

Turkey significantly beefs up its military presence in northwestern Syria amid continued disagreement with Russia over Damascus’ counterterrorism operations in the area.

On Tuesday, Turkey’s Haberturk TV reported that the Turkish army had dispatched around 300 military vehicles to its observation posts in Syria’s Idlib Province.

It said the convoy featured military trucks, armored vehicles, and self-propelled artillery.

Meanwhile, a video showed a Turkish military convoy arriving in the village of Matarim in a militant-held area in Idlib that lies near the strategic M4 Highway. The highway connects the flashpoint town of Saraqeb with government-held Latakia.

Turkey has 12 observation posts in Idlib, set up as part of an Iran-brokered agreement with Russia to de-escalate the situation near the Turkish border. Some of the posts, however, now lie in the territory that has been recaptured in joint Russo-Syrian efforts.

Ankara, which itself supports a number of anti-Damascus militant outfits in Idlib, claims that Syrian offensives there have killed 13 of its troops this month. It has threatened to attack the Syrian military unless government forces abandoned the liberated areas, and asked Moscow to “stop” Damascus.

Earlier, reports said that the Turkish military had gone as far as conducting some strikes against the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).

Damascus, though, has vowed to liberate the entire Syria, including Idlib, which contains the largest remaining concentrations of Takfiri terrorists in the Arab country.

According to the Syrian government, there are at least 70,000 militants in the militant-held part of the province, many of whom belong to Hayat Tahriri al-Sham, formerly known as al-Nusra Front or al-Qaeda’s Syria offshoot.