by WorldTribune Staff, September 13, 2018
Turkey warned President Bashar Assad and his allies Iran and Russia not to attack Turkish forces in Syria’s Idlib province.
Turkey said it has sent troops, armored vehicles and equipment to reinforce its 12 military posts inside Idlib.
“We have a military presence there and if that military presence is damaged or attacked in any way, it would be considered an attack on Turkey and would therefore receive the necessary retaliation,” a military source told Reuters.
Idlib province, home to around 3 million people, is the last major stronghold occupied by anti-Assad rebels in Syria.
A senior rebel leader told Reuters that Turkey had sent dozens of armored vehicles and tanks, as well as hundreds of special forces personnel to Idlib.
“There are very big reinforcements of Turkish forces inside Syria and these observation posts have now in effect become permanent military bases,” Mustafa Sejari said.
Rebel sources told Reuters that Turkey has in recent days increased supplies to the rebel forces in Idlib, including ammunition and rockets.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that an assault by the Syrian army and its Russian and Iranian allies on Idlib would uproot hundreds of thousands of people.
Turkey, which currently is hosting some 3.5 million Syrians, says it cannot take more refugees. Turkish aid and security officials say that in the event of conflict in Idlib they would seek to shelter displaced people inside Syria rather than hosting them on Turkish soil.
“The refugees … will not be accepted into Turkey because previous experiences have shown that with such migrant waves, the entrance of radicals and terrorists into Turkey have been too much,” a security official said. “We will keep the refugees in Syria for the safety of both Turkey and European countries.”