Turkey reinforces troops in Syria’s Idlib amid talks with Russia

Press TV – Turkey has further reinforced its troops in Syria’s Idlib province, ratcheting up fears of a large-scale confrontation with Syrian government forces, as officials from Turkey and Russia met in Ankara to discuss the fighting.

Ankara sent hundreds of military vehicles on Saturday into Syria’s northwestern Idlib province, witnesses said, after Syrian government forces took control of a strategic town close to the provincial capital.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Saturday that 430 Turkish military vehicles had crossed into Idlib in the last 24 hours.

The fresh Turkish deployment came as Turkish and Russian officials, whose countries support opposing sides in Syria’s nearly nine-year war, met in Ankara to discuss the fighting in the last major enclave of militants.

The two sides held three hours of apparently inconclusive talks, agreeing to meet again next week.

“The situation in Idlib was discussed,” Turkey’s foreign ministry said after the talks.

“Steps that could be taken to establish peace on the ground as soon as possible and advance the political process were evaluated,” it said.

Despite the build-up of Turkish troops, the Syrian army forces have pressed their advances, surrounding several observation posts that Ankara set up around a “de-escalation zone” agreed with Moscow and Tehran in 2017.

Syrian army soldiers and their allies managed to assert control over two villages in the eastern countryside of Idlib province.

Official news agency SANA reported that Syrian forces managed to capture the villages of Maharem and Tell Karatine following clashes with Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly known as Nusra Front) terrorists and their affiliates.

The report added that Syrian government troops inflicted heavy losses on the militants’ lines of defense and forced them to retreat from their positions in the region.