ANKARA (Reuters) – The situation in Idlib in northwestern Syrian will not be resolved until Syrian government forces withdraw beyond the borders that Turkey and Russia outlined in a 2018 agreement, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday.
Turkey and Russia back opposing sides in the war in Syria, but have collaborated to seek a political solution. In 2018, Ankara and Moscow agreed to set up a de-escalation zone in Idlib to stem violence in the region, but a recent Syrian offensive there has upset this fragile cooperation.
“The solution in Idlib is the (Syrian) regime withdrawing to the borders in the agreements. Otherwise, we will handle this before the end of February,” Erdogan said, appearing to bring forward a previously stated deadline of the end of February.
“We would like to do this with the support of our friends. If we have to do it the hard way, we are also up for that,” he said. “Until we clear Syria of terrorist organizations and the cruelty of the (Syrian) regime, we will not rest easy.”
Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Hugh Lawson