In his first comment on the ongoing military operation around Syria’s Idlib, Turkey’s Defense Minister said on May 10 that the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) should cease its attack, claiming that the advance is a major violation of the agreements reached in the framework of the Astana Process.
“We expect the Russian Federation to take effective and decisive measures to prevent these violations and attacks in the following period … Assad regime attempts to widen its control area in south of Idlib against the Astana Agreement,” Hulusi Akar said at a meeting in southern Hatay province, according to the Anadolu Agency.
Akar added that the SAA must return to borders determined by the Russian-Turkish agreement, which was reached last September.
The SAA launched the military operation around Idlib earlier this month in response to a series of attacks by terrorist groups on civilian areas in northern Hama. The terrorists even resumed their attacks on the Russian Hmeimim airbase on the Syrian coast.
The Turkish defense minister said that the operation has caused humanitarian problems and disrupted Turkish armed forces’ patrols and movement in the demilitarized zone around Idlib.
“This leads to disruption of Turkey’s activities, showing every effort to fulfill their obligations under the bilateral agreement on Astana,” Akar said, and added: “Turkey, aware of its responsibilities, will make every effort in line with existing agreements with Russia for the security and peace of innocent people in the region.”
Earlier this week, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said “the terrorist nest” in Idlib “must be uprooted.” The minister also clarified that the ongoing operation don’t violate the agreement with Turkey, which “doesn’t include a single word about the importance of protecting terrorists,” according to him.
While Akar’s statements reflect Turkey’s frustration with the ongoing operation around Idlib, Ankara will likely remain committed to its agreement with Moscow, at least for the time being.