On March 2nd, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey’s hope was a lasting ceasefire in Idlib, Syria and that Ankara is working towards that goal.
“My only wish is to end this struggle with victory and prevent further bloodshed, with a permanent cease-fire. For this, we are using all our diplomatic channels, along with our struggle in the field,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a gathering of ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party officials.
His remarks came ahead of his meeting Thursday with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the situation in Idlib, northwestern Syria. The meeting is expected to take place on March 5th in Ankara.
Turkey has pressed Russia to do more to rein in Assad’s attacks in the region.
“For every one of our martyrs, we destroy dozens of regime elements, and make them pay a heavy price by destroying their jets and ammunition,” said Erdogan, speaking of Turkey’s retaliation for regime attacks.
“We rendered Nayrab [military] airport useless with our attacks on Sunday [March 1st].”
Following the launch of operation Spring Shield in response to Turkish soldiers being killed in Idlib, and capturing a few villages from the Syrian Arab Army, by assisting the armed militants in the province, now Turkey says it wants a ceasefire.
This is another shift of the initially declared goal, which was supposed to be all Syrian Arab Army forces, as well as their Russian support to retreat back beyond the Turkish observation posts set out in the Sochi Agreements back in October 2018. This meant that the Syrian government should give up on thousands of square kilometers of liberated area.
Now, Turkey seems to only wish a ceasefire and the liberated areas to remain.
Erdogan referred to Russia and Iran in his speech, and said that Turkey had no issue with both of them in Syria.
“I appeal to Russia and Iran. We have no problems with you in Syria, we are not aimed at either the Russian Federation nor Iran. We do not need oil and the lands of Syria. We fight for our national security. It’s us, not the Russian Federation, not Iran and other countries that accept 3.7 million refugees,” Erdogan said.
He furthermore warned that any attacks on observation posts would be responded to.
On March 3rd, there will be a session in Turkish parliament, discussing the situation in Idlib.
The Turkish ministers will have to explain that the 2nd strongest NATO army – the Turkish one appears to be incapable of defeating the Syrian Arab Army’s forces, who have been involved in a nearly 10-year-long conflict.
Or rather, they need to explain that Turkey could win, but need to justify the massive losses that it would suffer in achieving victory, by carrying out an invasion through Idlib, and possibly beyond.
And, judging by Erdogan’s words of wishing for a ceasefire, Turkey is not prepared to pay the price of a potential victory.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- Military Situation In Syria On March 2, 2020 (Map Update)
- Turkish Defense Minister Claims 2,557 Syrian Soldiers Were Killed Or Injured In Greater Idlib