President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey is working with Iran and Russia as the Syrian army is preparing for a decisive battle to drive terrorists out of the northern Idlib province.
Idlib shares borders with Turkey and is currently controlled by foreign-backed terrorists. With the Syrian army preparing to retake the last terrorist stronghold, there had been reports that Turkey tried to stave off the offensive.
Erdogan’s affirmation of working with Russia and Iran on Thursday, however, signals an apparent U-turn in the face of Syria’s insistence that the operation will go ahead despite US threats of a possible attack.
Erdogan and his Iranian counterparts Hassan Rouhani and Vladimir Putin are expected to hold a trilateral meeting on Syria in Iran on September 7.
Speaking in Ankara, the Turkish president said his country “should be present on the field, be strong in the field, and succeed at the field.”
“This is how we destroyed the terror corridor along our borders with Syria,” he said.
Ankara, he said, was working with Iran and Russia to prevent what he called a “catastrophe” from happening in Idlib.
Last Friday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said fighting terrorists on Turkey’s southern borders was a top priority.
“It’s important to deactivate all the terrorist groups since they are posing a threat to Turkey on our border,” Cavusoglu said in a joint news conference with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.
Staffan de Mistura, the UN’s Special envoy to Syria, said on Thursday the United Nations estimates that around 10,000 terrorists remain in northern Idlib province and need to be defeated.
The UN envoy admitted that the terrorists may use chemical weapons during the Syrian army’s upcoming operation in Idlib, endangering the lives of three million people living there.
His remarks came after Russia recently warned that Western powers led by the US were preparing to launch a new attack on Syria under the pretext of a “false flag” chemical attack.