Turkey will not withdraw from army posts in Syria’s Idlib

Above, a Turkish military observation points in Syria’s northern Idlib province, one of the 12 bases that were established under a September 2018 between Moscow and Ankara. (AFP)
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Updated 29 December 2019

Turkey will not withdraw from army posts in Syria’s Idlib

  • Observation posts were established under a September 2018 deal between Syrian regime ally Moscow and Ankara
  • ‘We will by no means empty those 12 observation posts, we will not leave there’

ISTANBUL: Turkey will not withdraw from its observation posts in Syrian rebel bastion province of Idlib which has seen an increase in violence carried out by regime forces supported by Russian airstrikes, the defense minister said.
The posts were established under a September 2018 deal between Syrian regime ally Moscow and Ankara, which backs the rebels, to avert an all-out Syrian government onslaught in Idlib.
Government forces surrounded one of 12 Turkish observation post in Idlib province on Monday after overrunning nearby areas in a push to take the last opposition holdout, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“We respect the agreement reached with Russia and we expect Russia to abide by this agreement,” Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said in comments published on Sunday on the defense ministry’s Twitter account.
“We will by no means empty those 12 observation posts, we will not leave there,” Akar said.
His comments came during a visit together with top army commanders to the southern province of Hatay on the Syrian border to inspect Turkish troops on Saturday.
Turkey, worried over a new wave of refugees from the Idlib region, is pressing for a fresh cease-fire deal, as it sent a delegation to Moscow on Monday.
Akar’s visit to soldiers on the border region comes as Turkey is also readying to send troops to support the UN-recognized government in Tripoli against strongman Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday said Ankara would respond to an invitation from the Libyan national unity government and Turkish parliament would vote on a motion to send troops as soon as it returns from recess as early as next month.
Ankara signed in November a security and military cooperation deal with the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) but in order to send troops, parliament needs to vote a motion like it does for Iraq and Syria.
The official Anadolu news agency, citing sources in Erdogan’s ruling party, reported that the timetable could be brought forward and the motion could be presented to parliament speaker’s office on Monday.
The General Assembly could vote the measure in an extraordinary session on Thursday, it said.


US ambassador says ready to solve Safer tanker crisis

Updated 19 min 5 sec ago

US ambassador says ready to solve Safer tanker crisis

  • The United States is keen on helping to resolve the oil tanker crisis

RIYADH: The US ambassador to Yemen said Washington is ready to help in solving the crisis of an abandoned oil tanker off Yemen’s coast at risk of exploding. 

Ambassador Christopher Hensel stressed that the United States is keen on helping to resolve the crisis given that it poses a threat.

He also expressed his appreciation to the efforts by the Yemeni government to reach stability in the region, in remarks during a meeting with the Yemeni foriegn minister.  

With 1.1 million barrels of crude on board, the FSO Safer tanker is deteriorating badly and could rupture at any time, with disastrous results for Red Sea marine life, UN and other experts have warned.
The 45-year-old ship is anchored off the port of Hodeidah under the control of the Iran-backed Houthi militia, which initially blocked UN efforts to send a team of experts to assess its condition. Sources on Sunday said the Houthis gave the UN inspectors the green light to inspect the decaying tanker.