On September 16, dozens of civilians protested around two Turkish observation posts besieged by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in Greater Idlib to demand the withdrawal of Turkish forces from the region.
The protesters gathered in the morning around the posts of Murak and Alsurman in southern and southeastern Idlib. The Turkish post in Murak was besieged in August of 2019, while Alsurman post was besieged in December.
— جاسم (@Jasem_Mohammed3) September 16, 2020
— Yusha Yuseef ?? (@MIG29_) September 16, 2020
People have fun in Tal Touqan ? pic.twitter.com/zZg7DfyKo0
— ZOKA (@200_zoka) September 16, 2020
The protesters, who were raising Syrian flags and pictures of President Bashar al-Assad, demanded the withdrawal of Turkish forces from Greater Idlib. Many of the protesters were reportedly locals from the region, mainly from the towns of Murak, Alsurman and Tell Touqan.
Turkish service members in Murak’s post assaulted the protesters with tear gas. This led to a number of injures among the protesters.
According to several opposition sources, the ruling Baath Party organized the protests around Murak and Alsurman posts to pressure Turkish forces into leaving their posts.
The Turkish military established the two posts and many others in 2018 and 2019 in the framework of the Astana process. The posts were supposedly meant to monitor the ceasefire in Greater Idlib. In 2019, the SAA liberated the areas overlooked by the posts. However, Ankara refused to withdraw them.
The protests took place on the very day when the Russian and Turkish sides are holding talks on the Libyan and Syrian issues. According to a number of sources, Russia, for its part, offered Turkey to reduce the number of Turkish observation posts in the Syrian Idlib, but Ankara refused.
Today’s protests are a sign of Damascus growing frustration with Turkish military presence in Greater Idlib. Anakra appears to be planning to stay in the region for the long term.
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