UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (VOP TODAY NEWS) — President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Friday that Syrian army attacks in the northwest were causing a major humanitarian crisis and threatening Turkey’s national security, the presidency said.
Syrian forces seized an enclave of land, surrounded opposition fighters and a Turkish military post and recaptured towns lost in the early war.
The military outpost near the town of Murk is one of 12 sites set up by Turkey in northwest Syria under an agreement with Moscow and Tehran two years ago aimed at reducing fighting between Syrian government forces and opposition fighters.
Turkey supports some opposition factions in the northwestern Idlib region, while Russia and Iran support Assad.
The Turkish presidency said Erdogan told Putin, in a telephone conversation, that the attacks violated a ceasefire in Idlib and damaged efforts to resolve the conflict in Syria.
“The president said that the (Syrian) regime’s violations of the ceasefire and its attacks in Idlib are causing a major humanitarian crisis and that these attacks harm the process of reaching a solution in Syria and pose a great threat to our national security.”
The recent advance by Syrian government forces has put Turkish soldiers stationed in the area in the crossfire and displaced hundreds of thousands, threatening to undermine Ankara’s hopes of blocking a new wave of refugees on its southern border.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has called for an immediate end to the fighting but said Turkish troops would remain stationed at the Mork site of their choice, not because they had to.
“No one can impose a blockade on our troops and soldiers,” he told a news conference in London. We are discussing this issue with Russia and Iran.”
“We are not there because we cannot go out but because we do not want to go out. We are there in line with our agreement with Russia.”
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