Erdogan Says Syria Talks With Russia Unsatisfactory, Full Offensive 'Matter of Time'

Speaking to lawmakers from his ruling AK Party, Erdogan said Turkey was determined to make Idlib a secure zone 'no matter the cost'

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan shakes hands during their meeting on sideline of the Libya summit in Berlin, Germany January 19, 2020.
REUTERS

President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday talks with Russia on the northwestern Syrian region of Idlib were far from meeting Turkey's demands and warned that a military operation there was a "matter of time".

Speaking to lawmakers from his ruling AK Party, Erdogan said Turkey was determined to make Idlib a secure zone "no matter the cost", even as talks continue with Russia, which backs President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

Turkey, which backs rebels looking to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has been outraged since Syrian attacks in the Idlib region killed 13 Turkish troops in two weeks. It has urged Russia to stop the attacks, warning it would use military power to drive back the Syrian forces unless they withdraw by the end of the month.

On Sunday, Russian warplanes mounted heavy air strikes in Aleppo province, bombing towns including Anadan, which was later seized by Syrian forces supported by Iranian-backed militias, activists reported.

Read more: Airstrikes hit hospitals, camps in Syria as UN says 300 civilians killed in ongoing fighting | Turkey and Russia clash over Syria, and Idlib's residents are paying the price

The Kremlin responded on Wednesday that a Turkish military operation against Syrian government forces in the Idlib region would be a worst-case scenario.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said earlier on Wednesday that a military operation there was a "matter of time" after talks with Russia on Idlib had failed to meet Turkey's demands.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Moscow was strongly opposed to such an operation, but that Russia and Ankara were staying in contact to try to prevent tensions in Idlib escalating further.