Turkey won’t allow Syrian forces to gain ground in Idlib, says Erdogan

Turkey won’t allow Syrian forces to gain ground in Idlib, says Erdogan
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, left, and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan review the honor guard during a welcome ceremony ahead of their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. (AP Photo)
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Updated 04 February 2020

Turkey won’t allow Syrian forces to gain ground in Idlib, says Erdogan

Turkey won’t allow Syrian forces to gain ground in Idlib, says Erdogan
  • Erdogan: We will not allow Syria the opportunity to gain ground there (Idlib)
  • Syrian shelling killed eight Turkish soldiers and civilians in Idlib on Monday

ISTANBUL: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey will not allow Syrian forces to gain ground in the last opposition stronghold of Idlib, in comments published Tuesday, a day after eight Turks died in regime fire.
“Syria is right now trying to buy time by driving those innocent and grieving people in Idlib toward our borders. We will not allow Syria the opportunity to gain ground there,” Erdogan said in quotes published by the Hurriyet newspaper and broadcaster NTV.
Syrian shelling killed eight Turkish soldiers and civilians in Idlib on Monday, prompting Ankara to retaliate against dozens of Syrian army positions.
“This is a clear violation of the Idlib agreement. There will of course be consequences for the regime,” Erdogan said in the interview, which was given to Turkish journalists on his plane returning from a visit to Ukraine.
Erdogan had earlier criticized Russia, the key backer of President Bashar Assad, for failing to enforce peace agreements in Idlib, but he toned down his rhetoric in the latest statement.
“We don’t need to get into a serious conflict or a serious confrontation with Russia at this stage,” he said. “As you know we have very serious initiatives with Russia.”
Turkey and Russia have enjoyed burgeoning trade and defense ties in recent years despite being on opposing sides of the Syrian conflict.
Under a 2018 deal with Russia, Turkey set up 12 observation posts in Idlib aimed at preventing a full assault by Syrian forces, although one was surrounded by Assad’s troops in December.
“Our military observation posts are playing a vital role there and they will remain in place,” Erdogan vowed.


Lebanon indicts 8 retired military figures over alleged graft

Updated 1 min 32 sec ago

Lebanon indicts 8 retired military figures over alleged graft

Lebanon indicts 8 retired military figures over alleged graft
  • Those accused of graft include former army chief Jean Kahwaji, who held the post from 2008 to 2017, and several former military intelligence chiefs
  • The under-fire ruling class has repeatedly pledged to root out graft, and this year the parliament passed a new law to combat ‘illicit enrichment’
BEIRUT: A Lebanese prosecutor Wednesday indicted eight retired military figures including a former army chief over “illicit enrichment,” a judicial source said, in a first under a new anti-graft law.
Popular anger has grown in the past year over alleged corruption among the political elite in Lebanon, where a dire economic crisis has pushed the poverty rate up to more than half the population.
Since mass protests erupted in October 2019, the under-fire ruling class has repeatedly pledged to root out graft, and this year the parliament passed a new law to combat illicit enrichment.
But critics have expressed little trust in a system they say is riddled with nepotism.
Those accused of graft on Wednesday included former army chief Jean Kahwaji, who held the post from 2008 to 2017, and several former military intelligence chiefs, the judicial source said.
The Beirut state prosecutor launched proceedings over their alleged “illicit enrichment, and using their official positions to reap vast wealth,” the source said.
A preliminary investigation showed a lack of correlation between their wealth and their income, the source said, adding that they would be questioned on December 10.
The official National News Agency said it was the first time such indictments were made since the law was passed.
It also made mention of a bank that several years ago had allegedly allowed Kahwaji and members of his family to deposit sums of up to $1.2 million in their accounts, without justification as to the origin of the funds.