President Tayyip Recep Erdogan has announced that Turkey will be deploying soldiers in Syria’s northern region of Idlib following a so-called “de-escalation” agreement with Russia.
In an interview with news agency Reuters last Thursday, President Erdogan stated that the “de-escalation” zones agreed by Turkey, Russia and Iran will be further discussed during President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Ankara, next week.
He said: “Under the agreement, Russians are maintaining security outside Idlib and Turkey will maintain the security inside Idlib region.”
President Erdogan also stated that Turkey was contemplating counter-measures such as imposing sanctions on Kurdish northern Iraq over the independence referendum which takes place today. Despite the escalating international pressure, the Iraqi Kurdish authorities have insisted on holding the referendum on independence.
It is feared that such a referendum may ignite unrest among neighbouring countries’ Kurdish populations. Western governments are concerned that such unrest will be counter-productive in the fight against ISIS.
U.S. President Donald Trump met with President Erdogan in the sidelines at the UN General Assembly in New York, and praised his leadership describing him as “a friend of mine”.
Turkey is part of the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS; however, Ankara’s ties with Washington are fragile because the U.S. provides military and financial support to the Syrian Kurdish militia YPG.
President Erdogan cautioned Washington from arming the YPG saying it could result in misfortune for both the US and its allies. He said: “Weapons are being deployed to YPG … We are strategic allies with the United States … we should avoid helping YPG.”