Turkey Sends Huge Military Convoys to Idlib as Damascus’ Op Looms
The Turkish army has sent 15 vehicles, including 6 tanks, carrying weapons and munitions, to the Syrian province of Idlib through the Kfar Lusin border-crossing, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Saturday.
The vehicles reportedly moved towards the Turkish observation point in the Shir Magar area of Shashabo Mountain in the western countryside of Hama and the convoy was then split into two parts, with one leaving at the Shir Magar observation point and the other one heading towards the Ishtabraq observation point.
Ankara has not yet commented on the reports.
Earlier this week, the same monitoring group said that Ankara had dispatched convoys of troops to beef up its presence in Idlib ahead of the Syrian government’s looming offensive on the militant-held enclave. The convoys of Turkish forces also entered Idlib from the Kfar Lusin crossing and continued moving to some of the twelve Turkish observation points along the province border.
The reinforcements came notwithstanding Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar’s warnings that a military operation in Idlib would drag the province toward a humanitarian catastrophe.
“We are working with Russia, Iran and other allies to bring peace and stability and to stop a humanitarian tragedy,” Anadolu News Agency cited him as saying.
Under the de-escalation agreement reached with Russia and Iran last year in Astana, the Turkish military has set up twelve observation points that surround Idlib, with the last one being established in May. The agreement seeks to freeze the lines of conflict, effectively making Ankara the guarantor of peace in the province.
Earlier this week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal, in which he suggested that “the world would bear responsibility” for not acting to halt the Idlib offensive and the humanitarian catastrophe that would inevitably follow the operation.
“All members of the international community must understand their responsibilities as the assault on Idlib looms. The consequences of inaction are immense,” Erdogan said.
The Syrian government has regained control over vast swathes of territory following the seven years of armed conflict with terrorist groups and opposition forces and is now planning a large-scale military operation in Idlib to liberate the area from the remaining militants.