ANKARA: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hit out on Friday at the Damascus regime’s “cruelty,” warning Turkey was prepared to use “military force” again in Syria.
“We will not allow the regime’s cruelty toward its own people, with attacks and causing bloodshed,” Erdogan said. Syria was also “continuously threatening our country with migration,” he said during a speech in Ankara.
“Turkey with complete sincerity wants Syria’s stability and security, and to this end, we will not shy away from doing whatever is necessary including using military force.”
He also said Turkey “could not stand by as mere spectators as new threats come toward our borders.”
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been displaced in Idlib since December after months of bombardment in the last rebel-held region in Syria’s northwest.
Many of them have fled toward the Turkey-Syria border, where Erdogan has said Ankara is building homes in a bid to prevent further migration. Turkey already shelters more than 3.5 million Syrians.
State news agency Anadolu reported on Wednesday that the Turkish army sent reinforcements to Reyhanli, a Turkish border town near Idlib. Erdogan said the only solution for Syria was a political process involving all citizens.
He hit out at unnamed countries who “give courage to the regime” in a bid to ensure the crisis continues.
Earlier this week, Erdogan offered rare criticism of Russia, accusing Moscow of “not honoring” agreements made with Ankara to prevent a regime offensive on Idlib.
Despite Russia assisting Syrian President Bashar Assad and Turkey supporting opposition fighters, Ankara and Moscow have worked closely to try to resolve the nine-year war.
Ten civilians were reportedly killed on Thursday by Russian airstrikes despite a cease-fire announcement, though Moscow denied it.
Turkey has previously launched three military operations against Daesh in Syria and a Syrian Kurdish militia in 2016, 2018 and 2019.