Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned against what he called “the security and humanitarian risks” of an upcoming Syrian army operation to liberate Idlib Province, which holds the largest concentration of militant groups, including those backed by Ankara.
In an article published in The Wall Street Journal on Monday, Erdogan called on the international community to intervene as Syrian forces are gearing up for the Idlib liberation battle.
“All members of the international community must understand their responsibilities as the assault on Idlib looms. The consequences of inaction are immense,” he said.
Syria has the backing of Russia, Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement in its bid to rid the strategic province bordering Turkey of terrorists.
Idlib hosts several militant groups backed by Turkey and other foreign parties – especially Western states, Israel and their regional allies.
Erdogan warned that the planned counter-terrorism campaign in Idlib “would also create serious humanitarian and security risks for Turkey, the rest of Europe and beyond,” apparently referring to a fresh influx of Syrian refugees in the wake of the Idlib battle.
“If the international community, including Europe and the US, fail to take action now, not only innocent Syrians but the entire world stands to pay the price,” he added.
Erdogan further stressed that not only the West, but also Turkey’s partners Iran and Russia are responsible for stopping a humanitarian disaster in Idlib.
Turkey on the one side and Iran and Russia on the other support opposite sides of the Syria conflict, but they have been mediating a diplomatic process between the warring parties since January 2017 aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the conflict.
Erdogan’s comments came as his country has been deploying heavy artillery tanks, howitzers and commandos to the Syrian border.
Last week, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani hosted his Russian and Turkish counterparts for a trilateral summit on Syria.
In a joint statement, the participants at the Tehran summit said the Syria crisis could only be resolved through a negotiated political process, and has no military solution.
The trio also “emphasized strong and continued commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria, as well as to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and highlighted that they should be respected by all.”
During the event, Erdogan called for a ceasefire in Idlib, but Russian President Vladimir Putin said that it would be pointless as it would not involve the militant groups that Moscow regards as terrorists.