Syria & Lebanon

Turkey will use force in Idlib if ceasefire is violated

Turkey is ready to “use force against those who violate the ceasefire” that came into force last week in north-west Syria, according to Turkish security source today.

The Turkish news outlet Yeni Safak cited the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, saying: “The ceasefire aims to halt regime attacks that endanger the safety of Turkey and the region, and pose the risk of causing an even graver humanitarian crisis in Idlib.”

The source said that the main goal of Turkey within Syria is to ensure the implementation of a permanent ceasefire in order to end the Syrian regime’s bombardment on the province of Idlib and establish a safe environment that would allow the return of displaced Syrians to the province, many of whom have fled to Turkey.

This is the reason, he said, why “the Turkish Armed Forces are giving maximum attention to implementation of all points of the ceasefire agreement, and are acting accordingly in the field.”

Following at least a week of Turkey bombarding and retaliating against the forces of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in Idlib, Russia and Turkey met for negotiations in Moscow on 5 March, resulting in an agreement for a ceasefire to end the conflict in the north-western province.

Parameters of the deal included the establishment of a de-escalation zone stretching six kilometres either side of the M4 highway – 12 kilometres overall – in which joint Turkish-Russian patrols will operate, the preservation of the Syrian regime’s territorial gains in the province, and most prominently a ceasefire between the regime and the opposition forces, along with both of their allies.

The threat of another operation or retaliation by Turkey, however, comes after the ceasefire has already been broken multiple times by Assad regime forces starting only minutes after the ceasefire came into effect.

These airstrikes and military advances made by the regime forces over the past few days were, however, labelled by the security source as mere attempts to end the agreement rather than regarding the ceasefire as already being broken. “We are aware of the regime’s attempts to violate the ceasefire; we are monitoring them closely,” he said, adding that Russia must step up and restrain the regime from doing so. “As the guarantor country, we expect Russia to ensure that the regime fully complies with the points specified in the agreement.”

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