"Turkey is determined to push back Syrian government forces from its observation posts in the Idlib de-escalation zone by the end of February. We will strike regime forces everywhere from now on regardless of the Sochi deal if any tiny bit of harm comes to our soldiers at observation posts or elsewhere. We will do whatever necessary both on the ground and in the air without any hesitation and without any delay," President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told in his February 12 speech before the Justice and Development Party in Ankara.
Almost every day does the Turkish armed forces command bring columns of its troops, military equipment and additional groups of militants across the border with Syria. Allegedly, the Russian Aerospace Force aircraft destroyed a column of M60 tanks handed over by the Turks to Syrian militants in the province of Aleppo on February 11. However, Ankara continues to provide terrorists with weapons and military hardware from supply bases equipped for observation posts. So, February 10 and 12 witnessed the use of man-portable air-defense systems against combat helicopters of the Syrian air force in the combat zone.
Syrian government forces are proceeding with their successful offensive in the Idlib province and grinding down enemy personnel in the north-east and south of the city of Aleppo. At the same time, the Syrian command is preparing a powerful strike at the junction of the two same-name provinces in order to dismember the terrorist group and establish control over the strategic Aleppo-Latakia highway with a subsequent disarmament of anti-government groups.
The military and political leadership of Turkey is seriously concerned about the critical development of the situation in northwestern Syria. This apparently explains Recep Erdogan's bellicose statements. Washington is demonstrating anxiety either.
On February 11, special representative of the US State Department James Jeffrey was urgently sent to Ankara for talks with the Turkish leadership. "Russian and Syrian government forces are a source of threat to the Turkish military personnel in the Idlib province. The threat comes from Russia and the Assad regime," the American said upon his arrival in Turkey.
That being said, the American presence east of the river Euphrates, especially in the northern parts of the country, faces growing resentment from the local population. The Americans prevent farmers from cultivating agricultural lands in the areas with oil fields, as well as partially or completely block traffic on highways for no reason, and other things. On February 10, they once again opened indiscriminate fire on a crowd of local residents, killing a young Syrian Kurd in the northern part of the city of Qamishli. In response, furious people blocked the Americans and dispersed them, taking away three armored vehicles.
Considering the unfolding situation, Turkey may restore relations with the United States in order to exert pressure on Russia for the good of maintaining its military presence in Northern Syria. However, it will unlikely settle for a direct military confrontation with Moscow: Erdogan's policy of drawing the country into the armed conflict in Syria and probable complications with Russia are held in low regard among the Turkish society and pose a real threat of reduced influence in the country.
As for NATO assistance, Europe realizes the true reasons for Ankara's policy in Syria: Turkey propagates concern about the fate of Syrian refugees in order to pressure the Old World to get the incomplete financial assistance (about three billion euros) and political support for its course. Throughout the entire conflict, the Turks have been actively helping the Syrian anti-government forces, including the international Muslim terrorist group ISIL banned in Russia. And it's not about the intention to protect the southern borders of the state from the Kurds. In fact, Erdogan was cherishing a dream to establish control over the northern territory of Syria – the country's richest part as regards oil, gas, water resources and agriculture.
On the evening of February 12, Erdogan had a telephone conversation with President Vladimir Putin about the situation involving Idlib, with its details not disclosed. However, according to Russian President's Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov, the Turkish leader's attention was drawn to the fact that the Russian Aerospace Force does not bomb the population and civilian objects. At the same time, the Turkish side continues to provide powerful military and material assistance to terrorists and other anti-Syrian armed groups. It is also stated that Russia will firmly defend the interests of the legitimate government of Syria.
In this respect, Recep Erdogan should hardly expect a prompt meeting with his Russian counterpart, despite the recent optimistic forecasts by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. Apparently, this need can only arise after the highway between Aleppo and Latakia is unblocked. In order to coordinate joint actions to begin the withdrawal of Turkish troops from Syria.