UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Turkey will not give up its military monitoring post in Idlib, the last opposition stronghold in northern Syria, after a suspected Syrian government offensive this month, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said.
The Syrian government forces carried out at least three attacks near a Turkish observation post in the area of reduced escalation in Idlib, one of 12 sites set up under an agreement signed between Turkey, Russia and Iran last May, Anatolia news agency reported.
“Evacuation of the observation post in Idlib after the regime attack will certainly not happen, will not happen anywhere,” Akar told reporters late on Tuesday.
“The Turkish armed forces will not retreat from their place of concentration,” he said.
More than three million people live in Idlib and surrounding areas, many of whom have fled government progress in other parts of Syria in the past few years.
At least 180,000 people have fled an upsurge in violence in northwestern Syria and dozens of people have been killed in the past three weeks.
Since last year, the region has been partially protected by a ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey, but most of the recent fighting has been in the buffer zone.
The prospect of an attack on Idlib raised warnings of another humanitarian disaster, and the United Nations warned that as many as 2.5 million people could flee to the Turkish border under such a scenario.
“The regime is doing what it can to break the situation, using explosive barrels, ground attacks and aerial bombardment,” Akar said.
He said 300,000 people had been displaced by the conflict over the past month.
He added that a “new tragedy” had been prevented and that he had discussed with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shuiju a new wave of immigrants into Turkey.
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