Erdogan threatens to hit Syrian regime forces 'anywhere' if Turkish troops hurt

Erdogan threatens to hit Syrian regime forces 'anywhere' if Turkish troops hurt

Syrian troops and allied militias have continued to push rebels and Islamist groups away from the key M5 highway, capturing a string of towns and villages in western Aleppo province since Tuesday night, according to pro-government media and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor.

The Kremlin said Turkey had failed to deliver on a promise to neutralise militants in Idlib, something it called unacceptable, the Foreign Ministry reminded Ankara its forces were in Syria without the blessing of the Syrian government, and the Defence Ministry said Turkish troops were seriously aggravating the situation on the ground in Idlib.

Turkey's President Erdogan is warning that attacks by Syrian government forces on his military will be met with the same overwhelming response.

Erdogan's direct criticism of Moscow is a rare move since 2015 when Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet that had strayed into its airspace.

"If any harm comes to our soldiers in observation posts or anywhere (in Syria), I declare that we will hit (Syrian) forces everywhere regardless of the Sochi deal", Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressed his party members at the parliament.

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Turkey has deployed special forces commandos to Idlib, Syria, Anadolu Agency has reported.

Under the bilateral agreements, radical groups were required to withdraw from a demilitarized zone in the Idlib region held by an array of rebels.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow remained committed to a deal on Syria it had struck with Ankara, but that Russian Federation considered militant attacks in Idlib to be unacceptable and in contravention of that same agreement.

Russian Federation insists, however, that groups of "terrorists" continue fighting in Idlib.

"We consider it unacceptable to use the tragic events to "score points" in the domestic political debate," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday, adding that Turkish lawmakers ought to "refrain from provocative comments, which by no means contribute to a constructive dialogue between our countries on the issue of a Syrian settlement".

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