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Turkey Will Not Withdraw Heavy Weapons From Idlib Observation Posts

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Turkey Will Not Withdraw Heavy Weapons From Idlib Observation Posts

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On March 11th, reports surfaced that Turkey was withdrawing some heavy weaponry from its Idlib observation posts and back to its territory.

Two days later, in a statement, the Turkish defense ministry said that negotiations with the Russian defense ministry were continuing in a positive atmosphere and that there was no question that the heavy weapons would remain at the observation posts.

“The talks to be completed as of today [March 13th] have been in a positive and constructive atmosphere,” the Ministry of National Defense said in a statement.

“Our observation points continue their duties. There is no question of pulling heavy weapons from there,” the statement said.

Syrian Arab Army sources on the ground in Syria also denied that any heavy weapons were being pulled from the Turkish posts in Idlib.

Turkey still continues its deployments to the de-escalation zone, despite the ceasefire. According to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR), 820 military units (vehicles, heavy weapons) have entered Idlib since the ceasefire was established on March 6th, in addition to hundreds of soldiers.

Most recently, on March 11th, a new Turkish military column of nearly 70 military vehicles crossing into the Syrian territory via Kafr Lusing border crossing, north of Idlib.

From February 2nd to March 11th, SOHR activists monitored the entry of more than 4,220 trucks and military vehicles to the Syrian territory, including tanks, personnel carriers, armored vehicles, mobile bulletproof guard booths and military radars. Meanwhile the number of Turkish soldiers who were deployed during the same period in Idlib and Aleppo exceeded 9,200.

Turkish forces, stationed at observation posts and military bases in north Syria, still refrain from paying the rent of land where these posts and bases are located.

In Hama’s Murek, Turkey still evades paying the rent due of the land, which is owned by a man who is known by his initials as (M.M.), where Turkish forces have been stationed in their observation post for 21 months.

SOHR sources said “The land owner agreed with (Al Sham Corps) faction, which has strong ties to Turkey, that the lessee had to pay $700 for each dunam of land, however, nothing like this has happened, as the Turks have never paid the rents due. Moreover, the contract expired in early June and was not renewed despite the fact that Turkish forces remained in positions, but on the contrary, Turkish forces expanded their presences by taking more ground and starting cutting down pistachio trees.”

As of the most recent update of the number of Turkish “observation posts” – it has established 43, all the while the Idlib Agreements set out that it should only have 12.

Thus, a large portion of Idlib is supplied, and will continue getting supplied with heavy weapons and soldiers, and Ankara plans to have no withdrawal of any sort.

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