'No tolerance for attack on Turkish forces in NW Syria'

Turkey will never tolerate attacks by the Assad regime on its forces in Idlib, northwestern Syria, said Turkey’s communications director on Saturday.

“Let me state clearly that it is never possible for us to tolerate the things that have happened in Idlib. Turkey held the terrorists who pointed guns at our heroic soldiers responsible, and now it will also hold those murderers responsible for martyring [its soldiers in Idlib],” Fahrettin Altun told a meeting on Turkey and Syria held in Istanbul.

The Turkish troops are in northwestern, Syria, just across the Turkish border, as part of an anti-terrorist and cease-fire mission, but this week a group of Turkish soldiers was killed by an Assad regime attack.

Turkey was the first country to send its military forces to combat the terrorists of Daesh/ISIS and the YPG/PKK in Syria, which clearly shows its views of proxy wars in the region, Altun added.

He said Turkey aims not only to maintain its own national security but also to foil ill-intentioned designs on the region.

“If the process [of a refugee influx], which started just beyond our borders, cannot be stopped immediately, a new and larger influx of refugees will start, [eventually] reaching European capitals,” he warned.

This Monday, an Assad regime attack in Idlib, northwestern Syria, martyred seven Turkish soldiers and one civilian contractor working with the Turkish military, and injured over a dozen people.

In retaliation, Turkey struck over 50 targets and killed 76 Syrian soldiers.

Idlib has been a stronghold of opposition and anti-government armed groups since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

In September 2018, Turkey and Russia agreed to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.

But more than 1,800 civilians there have been killed in attacks by regime and Russian forces since then, flouting both the 2018 cease-fire and a new one that started on Jan. 12.

More than 1.5 million Syrians have moved towards the Turkish border due to intense attacks over the past year.

Turkey remains the country with most refugees in the world, hosting more than 3.7 million migrants since the start of the Syrian civil war.

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