There is no plan for the withdrawal of Turkish forces from Syria’s Idlib governorate and Aleppo countryside, a Turkish military source told a meeting of opposition factions in northwestern Syria.
According to the source, Turkish forces present in those areas are “purely combative” and are deployed in compliance with an agreement concluded in early 2020 between Türkiye and Russia within the framework of the Astana Agreement.
“A special meeting was held in northwestern Syria in recent days. It included several opposition soldiers and a Turkish military official,” a Syrian opposition leader told Asharq Al-Awsat.
The meeting, said the source, tackled recent developments in Syria in addition to plans for warmer ties and normalization between Ankara and Damascus.
In a speech during the meeting, the Turkish official stressed that Türkiye has no plan or intention to withdraw from Syrian territory, and that this matter is strongly rejected “in the near term.”
The official affirmed that Turkish forces will not be pulled out of the country despite the withdrawal of forces being one of the key conditions of the Syrian regime for agreeing to rapprochement with Ankara.
“Turkish forces in the region are there to confront any advancement of regime forces towards Idlib and the opposition-controlled areas in northwestern Syria,” the official told the meeting.
Moreover, he stressed that opposition factions have every right to confront any advancement attempt by regime forces and crush any attacking force.
“Regime demands for the removal of Turkish forces from Syrian territories are unrealistic,” TRT HABER’s news website quoted Turkish Foreign Minister Melvut Cavusoglu as saying on Friday.
Cavusoglu noted that terrorist groups are still a threat in the areas where Turkish forces are stationed in Syria.
“If we withdraw from those lands today, the regime will not rule them. Instead, they will be overrun by terrorist organizations,” he warned.
“This is a danger to us, to the regime, and to all of Syria,” added the minister.