Turkey will drive Syrian gov’t forces from Idlib observation posts this week: Erdoğan

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Turkey plans to push Syrian government forces away from Turkish military observation posts in northwest Syria’s Idlib region by the end of February, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Wednesday, despite advances by the Russian-backed government forces, Reuters reported.

“We are planning to liberate our observation posts from the siege [of Syrian government forces] by the end of this month, one way or another,” Erdoğan told his party members in a speech at parliament.

Russia controls the region’s airspace and has been bombing Turkish-backed rebels on a daily basis in support of an offensive by Syrian government forces. Erdoğan said he hoped the issue of airspace over Idlib would soon be resolved.

Syrian rebels backed by the Turkish military seized the town of Nairab in Idlib this week, according to rebel and Turkish sources, but Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces continue to made advances elsewhere in the province.

Erdoğan first said on Feb. 5 that Assad’s forces must pull back behind a line of Turkish observation posts by the end of February, or Turkey would drive them back.

Turkey set up 12 observation posts around a “de-escalation zone” in Idlib under a 2017 agreement with Russia and Iran, but several are now behind Syrian government frontlines.

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