Several media reported that during a speech in the nation’s parliament on 12 February 2020, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Syria that if Turkish soldiers are hit by the Syrian army again, the retaliation will unfurl beyond Idlib.
“I announce that we will strike the Syrian forces everywhere starting from today, without being bound to Idlib and by the Sochi Memorandum, if our soldiers at the lookout posts or elsewhere suffer any harm,” he said.
Besides, Erdogan and Vladimir Putin discussed the situation over the phone on the same day. According to Kremlin, both leaders agreed that the arrangement on the Idlib de-escalation zone must be fulfilled.
In 2018, the Sochi Memorandum established the de-escalation zone set up around Idlib by Turkey and Russia to enforce ceasefire on the ground between the Syrian army and anti-government forces.
But the Syrian situation took a more dangerous turn when Turkish soldiers were killed by Syrian government forces in Idlib.
Turkish President claimed recently that 14 of Turkish servicemen were killed in Syrian operation. At present, Turkey, which is in the negotiation process with Russia, is losing some ground after the Syrian forces attacked Turkish observation posts since it can not use its air power against the Syrian government forces.
On the other side, anti-Government forces who enjoy military support from Turkey are facing fierce airstrikes and retreating from the occupied territories.
Media reports that the US is in talks with Turkey. US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft said that Turkey has the full backing of the US in responding to the Syrian regime’s “unjustified attacks” in Idlib. It means as a NATO partner, Turkey can achieve some diplomatic upper hand dealing with the situation. In this regard, Turkey should not expect too much from a retreating empire like the US, rather it may want to create a quagmire for the fighting forces in Syria, that includes Turkey as well. But the solution lies in the talks between Moscow and Ankara as none can afford hostility with each other for their geoeconomic and geostrategic mutual interest in the Middle East and Europe. Though both sides prefer to practice diplomatic and military manoeuvring simultaneously, like Sochi Memorandum they may find a common ground for settling the military crisis emerged in northern Syria.