Turkey to keep military posts in Idlib after Syrian government attacks

Turkish military vehicles drive in a convoy along the Bab Al-Hawa highway on May 21, 2019 on their way to reinforce Turkish military observation points in the southern countryside of Syria’s Aleppo province. (AFP)
Updated 22 May 2019

Turkey to keep military posts in Idlib after Syrian government attacks

  • Syrian government forces have carried out at least three attacks near a Turkish observation post in the Idlib de-escalation zone
  • ‘The Turkish Armed Forces will not retreat from where it is located’

ANKARA: Turkey will not evacuate its military observation post in northern Syria’s Idlib, the last rebel stronghold in the region, after a suspected Syrian government attack this month, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said.
Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency has said that Syrian government forces have carried out at least three attacks near a Turkish observation post in the Idlib de-escalation zone, one of 12 posts set up under an agreement between Turkey, Russia and Iran last May.
“Evacuating the observation post in Idlib after the regime’s attack is definitely not happening, it won’t happen anywhere,” Akar told reporters late on Tuesday.
“The Turkish Armed Forces will not retreat from where it is located.”
More than 3 million people live in Idlib and surrounding areas, including many who fled government advances in other parts of Syria in recent years.
At least 180,000 people have fled an upsurge in violence in northwest Syria, and government bombings have killed dozens in the past three weeks.
Since last year, the region has been partly shielded in a cease-fire brokered by Russia and Turkey, but much of the recent fighting has hit that buffer zone.
The possibility of an Idlib offensive has drawn warnings of yet another humanitarian catastrophe, with the United Nations warning that up to 2.5 million people could flee toward the Turkish border in such a scenario.
“The regime is doing its best to disrupt the status quo, using barrel bombs, land offensives and air bombings,” Akar said, adding that 300,000 people had been displaced due to the conflict in the past month.
Akar said the beginning of a “new tragedy” had been prevented and he had discussed preventing a new wave of migrants into Turkey with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.


Libyan navy says more than 300 migrants rescued

Updated 20 min 26 sec ago

Libyan navy says more than 300 migrants rescued

  • 128 Sudanese were in the boats, in addition to migrants from Chad, Egypt, Niger, Benin and Eritrea
  • It came days after Libyan navy patrols “rescued 278 migrants on board four inflatable boats

TRIPOLI: The Libyan navy said Sunday 335 migrants had been rescued and one body recovered in separate operations off the coast, as they tried to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe.
Nine children were among 57 migrants in a wooden boat rescued Saturday about 40 nautical miles from the town of Zuwara, west of Tripoli, navy spokesman General Ayoub Kacem told AFP.
He said they were from Ethiopia and Egypt.
It came days after Libyan navy patrols on Tuesday “rescued 278 migrants on board four inflatable boats northwest and northeast of Tripoli,” Kacem added.
The operations took place off the coasts of the cities of Khoms, 120 kilometers (75 miles) east of Tripoli, and Sabratha, located 70 kilometers west of the capital.
According to the statement, 128 Sudanese were in the boats, in addition to migrants from Chad, Egypt, Niger, Benin and Eritrea, including 35 women and 11 children.
One body was also recovered by the coast guard.
Libya, which has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 uprising that killed dictator Muammar Qaddafi, has long been a major transit route for migrants, especially from sub-Saharan Africa.
In general, migrants rescued at sea are first met by humanitarian agencies that provide medical care and food.
They are then taken into the charge of the body working to combat immigration at the interior ministry of the UN-recognized Government of National Accord.
On August 9, the Libyan navy accused the authorities of failing to manage migrants rescued at sea, claiming that it could be forced to let people go free once brought back to land.
Despite the risks, migrants continue to attempt to reach Europe by sea, preferring to take their chances than stay in Libya, where they are subject to abuse, extortion and torture, according to humanitarian organizations.