Sat, 22 Feb 2020

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey is losing patience with the military assault in Syria's Idlib Province, the opposition's last stronghold, and accuses Russia of 'not honoring' agreements aimed at stemming the violence there.

In remarks made public on January 29, Erdogan warned that Ankara 'would do whatever is necessary' if the bombing in the northwestern province does not stop.

Turkey and Russia, which support opposing sides in Syria, have agreed to work toward de-escalating the fighting in Idlib and creating a demilitarized zone under accords reached in 2017 and 2018 in Astana and Sochi.

However, Russia-backed Syrian government forces have pressed ahead with its offensive in Idlib in recent weeks. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have fled the fighting and moved toward the Turkish border.

Erdogan's latest remarks were published as Syrian troops entered the strategic town of Maarat Al-Numan in Idlib.

State media reported that the military 'liberated' the town after inflicting heavy losses on 'terrorists.' A monitoring group earlier said the opposition had withdrawn.

Maarat Al-Numan is located on the main highway linking the Syrian capital, Damascus, with the northern city of Aleppo.

Based on reporting by AFP, the BBC, and Reuters

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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