Throughout the month of February, Turkey’s information network and primarily, the man himself, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made numerous claims threatening Syria with war, among others.
Here is a brief list of the times Damascus has been threatened with war, in addition to Erdogan saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin would visit Ankara for negotiations, when, in fact, the negotiations took place in Moscow, and it is dubious that it was decided “at the last moment.”
On February 3rd, 4 Turkish soldiers were killed by Syrian Arab Army Fire.
Reportedly, Turkey retaliated by firing on 40 Syrian positions, killing 30-35 Syrian soldiers (note that the exact number isn’t important, since this was before Turkey provided any evidence in the form of videos).
Erdogan, back then, said that regardless of what happens, Turkey won’t stop.
“We are determined to continue our operations to ensure the safety of our country, our nation and our brothers in Idlib,” Erdogan stressed.
“Those who test Turkey’s determination with such vile attacks will understand that they made a big mistake,” he added.
He underlined that Turkey’s target is not Russia but the Syrian regime and warned Russia “not to stand on Turkey’s way.”
Meanwhile, Turkey reiterated its claim that it would never recognize “Crimea’s annexation,” among other things.
On that day, Erdogan later left Turkey for Ukraine, where he is set to attend the eight meeting of Turkey-Ukraine High-Level Strategic Council. He then pledged support for the Kiev regime.
On February 5th, Erdogan directly said that Turkey was prepared to declare war on Syria if the Syrian Arab Army does not withdraw from Idlib.
“If the Syrian regime will not retreat from Turkish observation posts in Idlib in February, Turkey itself will be obliged to make this happen,” he said.
“Turkey’s air and land forces will move freely in all operation areas [in Syria] and in Idlib, and they will conduct operations if needed,” he added.
After the incident, on February 8th, a Russian delegation visited Turkey to presumably negotiate a solution, that led to nothing.
They agreed that more negotiations were needed, they essentially had negotiations to simply coordinate that they needed to negotiate, in an apparent Catch 22 scenario.
When the rhetoric and exchanges began ramping up happened on February 10th, 5 Turkish soldiers were killed, and 5 more were injured in Idlib.
In response, Turkey claimed it had killed at least 111 Syrian soldiers.
On the next day, Erdogan said that Turkey would announce “more steps” against the “Syrian regime.”
“We have given the necessary response and retaliated in kind but this is not enough,” Erdoğan said, adding that he will share the details of the steps on February 12th.
The new steps were simply threat of war once again, as well as threats of a wide military operation against the Syrian army.
On February 13th, the Turkish Defense Ministry, among the threats of war by Erdogan hinted at wishing for a ceasefire in Idlib.
Fast forward a few days and a few Turkish casualties, in addition to a few more threats of war and reports began surfacing of a possible meeting on March 5th, that could potentially include French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in addition to Erdogan and Putin.
Following that, on several occasions Erdogan said that a meeting would take place between him and Putin, and it was possible that the French and German leaders would join and that it would take place in Ankara.
On February 27th, the biggest escalation took place when at least 34 Turkish soldiers, embedded in the ranks of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham were killed by Syrian Arab Army and Russian airstrikes.
Despite the irony of the situation, Russia is also not interested in further escalation. Foreign Minister Lavrov also said that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had held a phone call on February 28th, during which they hashed over the implementation of the agreements on Syria’s Idlib,.
“Today, a phone call between presidents Putin and Erdogan has been held at the initiative of the Turkish leader. The talks were detailed. They discussed the need to do everything possible to implement the original agreements on the de-escalation zone [in Idlib],” he said.
According to the Kremlin press service, the phone call was initiated by the Turkish side. The Kremlin added that the parties “agreed to intensify relevant inter-agency consultations and explore the possibility of holding a top-level meeting in the immediate future.”
“The fight against international terrorist groups was highlighted as a priority,” the statement said adding that the two leaders may meet in the near future.
During the entire situation, Turkish media, such as Anadolu Agency perpetuated the narrative that Putin would visit Ankara for the negotiations with Erdogan.
When the meeting finally took place, and Erdogan went to Moscow to meet Putin, the reason was given that Russia was undergoing “constitutional changes” and he couldn’t request the Russian leader to leave his country at such a sensitive time, and gracious as “the mighty mustache” Erdogan is, he visited Russia.
After all, in Turkey’s likely view it is potentially negotiating from a position of power. The map below provides a look into the “success” of the Turkish armed forces and the “moderate opposition” it backs as of March 5th:
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- The Saker: “Erdogan Loses The Battle, But The War Is Far From Over”
- Putin And Erdogan Sign Agreement On Idlib. What Now?