The Cradle
‘Turkey has no plans to leave Syria’: Turkish military official
The Turkish army and their backed militants occupy 8,835 square kilometers in Syria
By News Desk - September 22 2022
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Turkey-backed Syrian fighters gather along the frontlines opposite Kurdish forces near the town of Dadat. (Photo credit: AFP / Bakr Alkasem)

The Turkish military has no plans to withdraw from occupied areas in Syria’s Idlib governorate and Aleppo countryside, according to a report published by Asharq al-Awsat on 21 September.

According to the media outlet, a Turkish military source met with opposition factions in northwestern Syria and confirmed there were no intentions by the Turkish government to withdraw from Syria. 

“A special meeting was held in northwestern Syria in recent days. It included several opposition soldiers and a Turkish military official,” Asharq Al-Awsat reported quoting a Syrian opposition leader.

According to the Turkish official, the troops deployed in the northern regions of Syria are “purely combative,” and will stay put despite the rapprochements between Damascus and Ankara.

Turkey has set the goal of achieving a 30-kilometer long “safe zone” on its southern border with neighboring Syria, to curb what Ankara considers threats from Kurdish separatists.

“Turkish forces in the region are there to confront any advancement of regime forces towards Idlib and the opposition-controlled areas in northwestern Syria,” the Turkish official told the people present at the meeting.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed in September 2018 to designate Idlib a “de-escalation zone.” The area was supposed to serve as a buffer zone between the two sides. 

Meanwhile, in March 2020, Ankara and Moscow brokered a ceasefire deal to avoid a significant military escalation in Idlib.

Following the agreements, Russia accelerated its goal to find a political solution in Syria, and asked both, Syria and Turkey, to normalize relations

According to Reuters, Hakan Fidan, the head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT), has paid several visits to Damascus over the last month to meet with his Syrian counterpart Ali Mamlouk.

“Russia wants Syria and Turkey to overcome their problems and achieve certain agreements, which are in the interest of everyone,” a Turkish official told Reuters.