Turkey asked Russia to step aside in Syria, leaving Ankara to deal with the Syrian government forces, said Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday, after the Syrian strikes which killed at least 33 Turkish soldiers.
Meanwhile, the Russian foreign ministry announced on Saturday that it had agreed with Turkey to reduce tensions in Syria’s Idlib province, while continuing military action there.
The ministry said: “Concrete steps to achieve lasting stability in the Idlib de-escalation zone were considered,” adding that “both sides confirmed their goal to reduce tensions ‘on the ground’ while continuing the fight against terrorists.”
However, Russian Permanent Representative to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, said that Syrian army has a full right to respond to terrorist attacks on its territory, asserting that Russia cannot forbid the Syrian army to conduct an “unconditional fight against terrorism in all of its forms, particularly on its territory, the territory of sovereign Syria.”
On the other side, Greek police clashed on Saturday with thousands of migrants on the Turkey-Greece border. The police fired tear gas at migrants who have amassed at a border crossing in the western Turkish province of Edirne, some of whom responded by hurling stones at the officer.
Greek authorities said that in the past 24 hours, it had averted attempts by 4,000 people to cross the borders. Greece and Bulgaria, which border Turkey, have strengthen the protection of the borders with Turkey after the latter announced that it could no longer hold back the flow of migrants.
Following the Syrian government attack on Thursday against the Turkish troops in north-western Syria, Turkey threatens that it will allow migrants in Turkey to pass to Europe, claiming on Saturday that 18,000 migrants has crossed its border, without providing any further information.
On Friday, the Turkish forces had launched strikes targeting Iran-backed Hezbollah headquarters near the city of Saraqeb in Idlib. The strikes killed ten members of Hezbollah, and wounded 30 others, according to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).
Separately, the Turkish drones continue bombarding positions of Syrian forces, killing 45 Syrian soldiers in Turkish artillery shelling and airstrikes. The aerial and ground strikes are targeting the Syrian army’s positions in Al-Zarbah, Saraqeb, and Maarrat Al-Nu’man countryside.
The 15 members of the Security Council met on Friday after 33 Turkish soldiers were killed by Russian-backed Syrian government troops. The meeting in which Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia claimed that Russian warplanes were not providing support in the area where the Turkish soldiers were killed.
However, the claims were dismissed later by Turkey’s UN Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioglu as he said that “radar tracks” showed that Syrian government and Russian aircraft were flying in formation during the time of the attack.
He said Turkey had coordinated with Russian forces about the location of the Turkish convey and air strikes continued, asserting that the Turkish troops were alone in the area and “the logical conclusion of that is that they were deliberately attacked.”