İrem UZUN -TDO- Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to launch an operation in Syria's Idlib region by the end of the month if Damascus fails to withdraw behind Turkish military positions. "An operation in Idlib is imminent," Erdogan told his party's legislators in Parliament on Wednesday. "We are counting down, we are making our final warnings".

Meetings with Russian officials on ending the bloodshed in Idlib, a conflict-battered province covered by a nominal cease-fire, have failed to produce results, said Erdogan. "Although the meetings will continue, it is a reality that we were very far from what we want, " he said. Erdogan added: "Turkey has made all preparations to carry out its own operation plans in Idlib." Turkey is determined to transform Idlib into a safe place at any cost for the sake of both Turkey and the region's people, the president said. Idlib is the last stronghold of the rebel and jihadist fighters who have been trying to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since 2011. Turkey has deployed troops to observation posts in Idlib under an agreement with Russia, Sochi accord in 2018, that set up a de-escalation zone. However, it has failed to stop the Syrian army retaking large parts of the province with the help of Russian air strikes and Iran-backed militiamen.

Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman responded quickly to the threat, saying: "If we are talking about an operation against the legitimate authorities of the Syrian republic and armed forces of the Syrian republic this would of course be the worst scenario." He added that Russia would not object if the Turkish military took action against the "terrorist groups in Idlib", in line with the Sochi accord.

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