Turkey: Russia must 'stand aside' in Idlib

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told CNN Turk in an interview that there is “healthy dialog” between the Turkish and Russian military regarding the intensified conflict in Syria’s Idlib province.

He added that Ankara has no intention to confront Moscow, and is doing all it can to prevent an encounter between Russian and Turkish troops. However, the minister said that the problem in Idlib can only be resolved if Russia “stands aside”.

Akar also said that Turkey could use American Patriot anti-air missile systems to secure the region. Bloomberg reported previously that the Turkish government had asked the US for the systems in order to provide cover for the troops in Idlib. Ankara does not plan to move its observation points in the region, the defense minister noted.

At the same time, Turkey is planning to activate the S-400 missile systems which it purchased from Russia. According to Akar, there should be “no doubt” that the S-400s will be used.

On Thursday, February 20, a group of Su-24 bombers belonging to the Russian Aerospace Forces attacked the opposition’s positions in northern Syria. The Russian military said that the aircraft targeted pro-Turkish militants who had breached the defenses of the Syrian army near Qmenas and Nayrab. According to the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria, the operation enabled the Syrian troops to repel the attack.

  Idlib, Syria, Turkey, Russia