İrem UZUN -TDO- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated the time Ankara has given Damascus to pull its troops away from Turkish observation posts in Syria’s Idlib is coming to an end, adding that Turkey will not take the "smallest step back" in the province. Instead Erdogan vowed that Ankara's forces will push the Syrian Army beyond the perimeter of those posts by the end of February. "We would like to remind those who try to corner Turkey by forcing their own agenda onto it, that we are not guests in this region, but its masters", Erdogan said.
"The time we have given to those who besieged our observation towers is running out," Erdogan told his party's parliamentarians in a speech on Wednesday. Erdogan said on February 5 that al-Assad's forces must pull back behind a line of Turkish observation posts by the end of February - or Turkey would drive them back militarily. "The biggest problem we have is that we cannot use the airspace over Idlib” he added. Russia controls the region's airspace and has been bombing Turkey-backed rebels on a daily basis in support of a months-long offensive by Syrian government forces.
Turkish and Russian officials were due to hold a third round of talks in Ankara on Wednesday aimed at reducing tensions in the region. Two previous rounds in Ankara and Moscow have failed to yield any tangible progress. Russia’s Foreign Ministry expected positive results, RIA news agency cited Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov as saying, but a Turkish official was not optimistic. “At the moment, solely military diplomacy is being carried out and it is not possible to solve the problem on the ground like this,” the Turkish official told Reuters.