France's top military official said on Thursday his forces were prepared to carry out strikes on Syrian targets if chemical weapons were used in an expected government offensive to retake the northern province of Idlib.
Speaking to a small group of reporters, Armed Forces Chief Francois Lecointre said he expected the final pockets of Daesh resistance in Iraq and Syria to be eradicated by the end of November.
If Syria is to be divided, so will Turkey, says Karagül
Turkey must push for a solution to the looming offensive in Syria’s Idlib at the Tehran summit to be attended by the leaders of Turkey, Iran and Russia, and if this fails Ankara may launch an “official war” against the Syrian regime, Yeni Şafak Editor-In-Chief İbrahim Karagül told Turkish television channel NTV on Wednesday evening.“Turkey’s security is connected to Syria’s security. The moment Syria is divided, Turkey’s division will also begin. The Turkey front will be opened. That is why Turkey must find a middle way at the Tehran summit. I think Russia will be understanding of Turkey’s apprehensions,” Karagül said.Russia, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, resumed air strikes in Idlib on Tuesday following weeks of bombardment and shelling by pro-Syrian government forces in an apparent prelude to a full-scale offensive against the opposition’s last major enclave.Erdoğan to visit Iran for Syria summitThe leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran are due to meet on Friday in Iran and are expected to discuss the situation in northwestern Syria. Turkey, which backs the opposition against Assad, has said an offensive on Idlib would be disastrous. Ankara is sheltering 3.5 million Syrian refugees.“Turkey is a country that has taken initiative in the region, and has strong ties to the people of Idlib. There are calls from Idlib for Turkey to take over and form a buffer zone,” he added.Trilateral summit must yield results“Syrian forces of 25,000 troops are preparing to enter Idlib. Of these, 8,000 are terrorists and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is among them. Turkey’s only solution is for the Tehran summit to bear results. If this is unsuccessful and an attack on Idlib is launched, as a second option, Turkey must protect its garrisons or defend the people of Idlib. This would mean an official war with the Syrian regime. We hope it doesn’t reach that point,” Karagül said.“It can be seen that the U.S. is splitting Syria when we look to the east of the Euphrates. It is dividing the map of Syria. Just as the U.S. has ploys in Iraq’s north, it also has plans in Syria’s north,” Karagül said.Senior Turkish MP receives Russian, US envoysTurkey, Russia and Iran only hope for Syria“The Syria matter will not be resolved easily. These three countries [Turkey, Russia and Iran] are the only hope for Syria. The moment these countries get close to ensuring Syria’s territorial integrity, others will interfere and restart the war,” Karagül said.Russia and Turkey, along with Iran are sponsoring the Astana peace talks, which focuses on a cease-fire and ending the seven-year civil war in Syria.“Once Idlib is resolved, what will happen in Syria’s east? What is important for Turkey is Syria’s territorial integrity. There is no chance for Assad to remain in control of Syria from now on. After so much destruction, it is impossible for there to be a legitimate Assad administration, but meetings must be held with Damascus. The period of rebuilding Syria via the Astana talks will come to the agenda,” he added.Trump denies claim he sought Assad's assassinationAstana talks a beacon of hopeIn May, Idlib was designated a “de-escalation zone” -- in which acts of aggression are expressly forbidden -- as part of ongoing peace talks in Kazakh capital of Astana.“I am hopeful of the Astana summit. The Astana talks have sparked great progress in Syria. A de-escalation zone was formed in Idlib. Since the beginning of the Syrian war, Astana has been the first beacon of hope,” Karagül said.Russian strikes were unexpected“We weren’t expecting such activities before the Tehran summit. Russia’s attacks have put Turkey in a tough situation. When governments come together, tough situations can be overcome but because everyone has focused on their own interests in Syria, such a situation has arose in Idlib,” Karagül said.Russian and Syrian jets hammered Idlib on Tuesday, a war monitor said, days before leaders of Russia, Iran and Turkey meet to discuss an expected Syrian government offensive that could spark a humanitarian disaster.Turkey condemned Russia's Idlib attack: FMIdlib is strategically important“Idlib is located strategically in terms of the Mediterranean. Many countries are hosting drills there. Idlib must be evaluated while keeping the Eastern Mediterranean in mind. The Eastern Mediterranean has billions of dollars’ worth of hydrocarbon. With this incentive, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch. Those who tell us to leave the area are asking us to stop interfering with the terror corridor,” Karagül said.Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch on Jan. 20, 2018 in Syria’s northwestern region of Afrin to eradicate the area of terrorists belonging to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)’s Syrian offshoot, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), following Turkey’s seven-month Euphrates Shield Operation which succeeded in clearing large swathes of Syrian territory from Daesh.
Turkey condemned Russia's Idlib attack: FM
Turkey has conveyed to Russia its condemnation of the recent attack in Syria's Idlib, the Turkish foreign minister said on Wednesday."After the attack, our institutions [Turkish and Russian] contacted each other. We told them that this is wrong," Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said, speaking at a joint news conference with his German counterpart Heiko Maas.Çavuşoğlu said the attacks are aimed at "capturing Idlib", which he said, "carries a serious risk" and "would be disastrous from many angles". Russian warplanes on Tuesday pounded civilian and opposition targets in Idlib.Turkey follows generous policy for Syrians: Dutch min.Located near the Turkish border, Idlib is home to more than 3 million Syrians, many of whom fled from other cities following attacks by regime forces.The Syrian regime has recently announced plans to launch a major military offensive to the area, which is controlled by various armed opposition groups.On Tuesday, the UN’s humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock warned that such an offensive would lead to the "worst humanitarian catastrophe in the 21st century".Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani are scheduled to meet in Tehran on Friday for a trilateral summit on Syria.Idlib offensive could trigger new wave of migration to Europe, TurkeyRussia says summit to help clarify military situation in Syria's Idlib