Turkey Urged Russia to Restrain Syrian Forces in Idlib

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan threatened on Wednesday to drive back Syrian troops in Idlib unless they withdraw by the end of the month to stem an assault which he said had displaced almost 1 million people.Shelling by Syrian government forces killed eight Turkish military personnel on Monday, prompting Turkish forces to strike back.

Erdogan said in a phone call that Ankara would "continue to use its right of legitimate defense in the firmest possible manner", the presidency said a day after Turkish and Syrian forces engaged in their deadliest clashes since Ankara sent troops to Syria in 2016.

Moscow, which backs the government of Bashar al-Assad, and Ankara, which supports some of the rebel groups opposed to it, are the two main foreign brokers in the almost decade-old Syrian conflict.

They have worked together to reduce fighting in Idlib, but a major Syrian government offensive in the region has rattled Ankara, which fears millions of displaced people could be driven towards Turkey, which already hosts 3.6 million refugees.

Eight Turkish citizens were killed in an exchange of shelling with Syrian government forces in Idlib on Monday, in an unprecedented direct confrontation between the two.

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Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces have been advancing deeper into the northwestern province of Idlib, the country's last rebel stronghold, since December.

"We also don't accept the excuse of "we can not fully control the regime" here", he said, adding that agreements with Russian Federation regarding Idlib must be revived.

The majority of the displaced people arrived at the camps near Turkish border while some others took refuge in the areas cleared of terror elements following Turkey's military campaigns.

A Turkish security official said clashes between Turkish and Syrian forces continued intermittently around Saraqeb, a town 15 km (9 miles) east of Idlib city.

The observation posts were set up as part of an agreement reached in 2018 with Russian Federation - a main supporter of Assad - to monitor a cease-fire that has since collapsed. Turkey - a strong backer of some of the rebels - has a dozen military observation posts in Idlib province, which borders Turkey.

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