Iraq News

Turkey bolsters Idlib posts as regime enters Saraqeb



A Turkish soldier looks through the scope of his rifle as others gather by military vehicles at a Turkish observation point near Sarmin on the outskirts of the city of Idlib on February 7th. [Omar Haj Kadour/AFP]

Turkey has sent nearly 150 vehicles with commandos and ammunition to reinforce its observation posts in Syria's Idlib region, Turkish media reported Friday (February 7th).

A Turkish security source said they were only to reinforce the 12 existing posts established under a 2018 deal with Russia to prevent a Syrian regime offensive.

Turkey says three of its outposts, all in the south-eastern part of the region, have now been encircled by regime forces as the regime presses a new offensive.

Earlier this week, Turkish troops at another position in Saraqeb shelled regime forces to prevent it from also being surrounded.

The security source said Turkey's priority was to stop the Syrian advance and reinstate the ceasefire, stressing that no Turkish soldiers would be evacuated.

Syrian regime forces on Thursday seized large parts of the key highway town of Saraqeb, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The battle for Saraqeb, which sits at the junction of two major highways coveted by the regime, came a day after Ankara warned pro-regime forces to back off.

After breaking into Saraqeb on Wednesday, Syrian regime forces on Thursday seized large sectors of the town after a day of heavy battles against opposition and extremist fighters allied with Tahrir al-Sham, the Observatory said.

Regime forces pushed back a "counter-offensive" in Saraqeb, a town of 110,000 now almost deserted following months of bombardment.

Turkey, which has troops deployed in north-western Syria, has repeatedly called on the Syrian regime and its ally Russia to stop the offensive against Idlib.

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