Turkey to hit any parties violating ceasefire in Syria's Idlib, defence minister says

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Thursday that Turkey would use force against any group violating a ceasefire in Syria’s last rebel-held province of Idlib, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

"Force will be used against those violating the ceasefire, including radicals, and every measure will be taken,” Akar said, referring to a Jan. 12 ceasefire deal between Turkey and Russia, which back opposing sides of the conflict.

Akar also said Turkey was sending additional reinforcements to Idlib to ensure the ceasefire and control the area.

Turkey and Russia signed an agreement in September 2018 to prevent a Syrian government attack on Idlib on the condition that Turkey cleared extremist groups from the northern province. Turkey built 12 military observation posts around the province, according to the terms of the deal.

But the Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces, backed by Russia and Iran, resumed their assault on Idlib in April, saying the continued presence of extremist rebel groups had breached the agreement. Thirteen Turkish soldiers and one civilian contractor were killed by Syrian army shelling in Idlib in the past week. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday vowed to hit back at Syrian forces everywhere in Syria if there were a fresh attack on Turkish soldiers in the province.