İrem UZUN -TDO- Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed Wednesday that his military would launch its harshest retaliation yet if the Syrian government breaks a fragile truce in Idlib province brokered last week. "If those across from us don’t keep their promise, we will never shy away from advancing on them in a much more serious way than before," Erdogan said in his weekly address to his ruling party's legislators.
Turkey and Russia, which back opposing sides in Syria's war, agreed on the ceasefire to stop escalating clashes in Idlib that brought the two countries close to direct confrontation amid a Moscow-backed Syrian government offensive that has displaced almost a million people. "In the face of the smallest attack (on our posts), we will not only retaliate, but we will respond much more heavily," Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara on Wednesday. The Turkish president agreed to the ceasefire last week with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, who supports Syrian government forces, but previous such deals have proved temporary. Under the ceasefire deal, Turkey and Russia also agreed to establish a secure corridor along a key east-west highway in Idlib and hold joint patrols on it as of March 15. Russian delegation arrived in Ankara on Tuesday for talks on details of the agreement, which the two sides said would be finalized by next week.
Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said that talks between Turkish and Russian officials on implementing the ceasefire have so far been “positive and constructive”. Speaking to reporters in parliament, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu acknowledged minor violations of the truce but added Moscow had warned Damascus to stop.