Erdogan won’t allow ‘more ground’ to Syria in Idlib

ANKARA: Turkey’s president said on Tuesday his country won’t allow Syrian forces to gain additional territory in a northern Syrian province, Turkish media reported, a day after clashes between Turkish and Syrian forces killed soldiers on both sides.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s comments came as Syrian forces reached the western gate of the rebel stronghold of Saraqeb in Idlib province in the north, while the UN announced that more than half a million people have fled their homes since Dec 1, because of the offensive.
At the moment, Syria is trying to gain territory by forcing the innocent and poor people towards our border,” private NTV television quoted Erdogan as telling a group of journalists late on Monday. We won’t give Syria the opportunity to gain territory.” Eight Turkish citizens were killed in an exchange of shelling with Syrian government forces in Idlib on Monday.
The assault on the Turkish troops came amid a Syrian government offensive that has been advancing since December into the country’s last rebel stronghold, which spans Idlib province and parts of the nearby Aleppo region. Turkish troops are deployed in some of those rebel-held areas to monitor an earlier cease-fire that has since collapsed.
On Tuesday, Syrian government forces were advancing north under the cover of air strikes reaching areas that have been held by insurgents for eight years. The bombardment forced more people to flee for safety in areas close to the Turkish border. – Agencies