Turkey has reportedly brought in a new column of military forces and hardware to be deployed in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib, only two days after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey may launch a military operation there if the ongoing offensive by Syrian government forces against foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants continues.
The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on Sunday that the column entered the Syrian territory through Kafr Lusin border crossing, and consisted of battle tanks, personnel carriers, armored vehicles as well as military and logistical supplies.
The Britain-based war monitor group, citing reliable sources requesting anonymity, reported that a Turkish military convoy had already been positioned in the entrance of Kafr Amim village, which lies in the Saraqib Nahiyah district of Idlib province, Presstv Reported.
Turkish military forces are installing a new military post on the highway linking Abu al-Duhur town to the city of Saraqib.
“We will do what is necessary when someone is threatening our soil. We will have no choice but to resort to the same path again if the situation in Idlib is not returned to normal quickly,” Erdogan said on Friday.
Syrian government forces are advancing against foreign-backed Takfiri militants in Idlib, tightening the noose around the extremists in their last major stronghold.
Syria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates wrote to the United Nations on January 25, stressing that the operation in Idlib and Aleppo against Takfiri elements “will not stop until the elimination of those terrorists, who threaten safety and security of Syrian civilians.”
The Syrian army declared the start of an offensive against foreign-sponsored militants in Idlib on August 5 last year.
It came after those positioned in the de-escalation zone failed to honor a ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey and continued to target civilian neighborhoods.
Under the Sochi agreement, all militants in the demilitarized zone that surrounds Idlib, and also parts of the provinces of Aleppo and west-central province of Hama, were supposed to pull out heavy arms by October 17 2018, with the Takfiri groups having to withdraw two days earlier.
On October 9, Turkish military forces and Ankara-backed militants launched a long-threatened cross-border invasion of northeastern Syria in a declared attempt to push militants from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) away from border areas.
Ankara views the US-backed YPG as a terrorist organization tied to the homegrown Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey since 1984.
On October 22, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Erdogan signed a memorandum of understanding that asserted YPG militants had to withdraw from the Turkish-controlled “safe zone” in northeastern Syria within 150 hours, after which Ankara and Moscow would run joint patrols around the area.
The announcement was made hours before a US-brokered five-day truce between Turkish and Kurdish-led forces was due to expire.