Syrian regime forces, backed by Iranian-proxies and Russian air support, continue to make gains in the war-torn country’s northwestern Idlib region. Dozens of villages and towns in the Aleppo-area were successfully captured by the Syrian army, as part of what one field officer insisted was a “precise and qualitative” operation “aimed at securing the M5 road connecting Aleppo with the capital Damascus as well as the road linking the northwestern countryside of Aleppo with the provincial capital.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan remains infuriated over the successful Russian-led offensive. “We are entering the last days for the (Syrian) regime to stop its hostility in Idlib,” Erdogan said during an address to his ruling AK party in Ankara, underscoring that “We are making our final warnings.”
He added that Turkish-Russian talks in Moscow aimed at resolving tensions over Syria “have not yet reached the desired results.” After acknowledging that mediation talks are ongoing, Erdogan said “we are far from meeting our demands at the table.”
He then further declared his nation’s military counteroffensive could come at any moment. “Turkey has made every preparation to carry out its own operational plans,” Erdogan proclaimed, warning “Like every operation we carried out, I say that we can come at any point one night.” After reiterating that “In other words, the Idlib offensive is only a matter of time,” the Turkish leader alluded by Damascus, as well its allies in Moscow and Tehran, to grasp the extent of Ankara’s commitment in northwestern Syria. “We will not leave Idlib to the (Syrian) regime which does not understand our country’s determination, and to those encouraging it (the Syrian regime),” he said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov responded to Erdogan’s remarks by confirming lack of success by the Moscow talks on Syria, while emphasizing the importance of implementing agreements on Idlib that Russian President Vladimir Putin reached with his Turkish counterpart last month. Lavrov also defended the Russian-led offensive in northwestern Syria, saying that “Provocations from the Idlib zone, shellfire attacks on the Syrian armed forces positions, civilian objects, Russian airbase Khmeimim, are going on,” stressing that “Naturally, the Syrian armed forces – upholding its commitment to the original agreements on Idlib including the ceasefire agreement – react to these unacceptable provocations; and we support them in that.”
U.S. President Donald Trump reacted to a reporter’s question about his phone conversation with his Turkish counterpart on Saturday; which focused on the latest developments vis-à-vis Syria. After describing the interaction as “very good,” Trump expressed respect for Erdogan, with whom he said he has “a very good relationship.” After describing his Turkish counterpart as “a tough guy” and that “I seem to do better with tough people,” the U.S. leader said that Erdogan was “fighting” over Idlib because “he doesn’t want people to be killed by the thousands and hundreds of thousands.” Trump then said that Washington and Ankara are “working together on seeing what could be done.”