After the death of many Turkish soldiers in an airstrike by the Syrian army, Ankara has announced further retaliatory strikes. The US pledged “full backing” to its ally Turkey.
After the recent escalation of the conflict between Syria and NATO member Turkey, the Turkish UN ambassador Feridun Sinirlioglu threatened to retaliate against Syria at an emergency meeting in the UN Security Council: “If you want to learn it the hard way, you can have it “Turkey does not want war. But Turkey will not hesitate to use violence when its security is at risk,” said Sinirlioglu, who attended the meeting as a guest since Turkey is not a member of the body.
According to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, extensive attacks were launched on the night of Saturday. Warehouses with chemical weapons as well as air defense systems and runways were destroyed.
The US was fully behind Ankara, also for further military attacks. “”Turkey has our full support to respond in self-defense to unjustified attacks on Turkish observation posts that have resulted in the deaths of its own armed forces,” said United States Ambassador Kelly Craft at the emergency meeting of the highest UN agency in New York. The United States would stand by its commitments to NATO partner Turkey.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also said that after the “contemptible” attack, the United States would continue to support Turkey as an ally. The United States would block the reintegration of the Syrian President Assad’s government into the international community until it adheres to UN Security Council Resolution 2254 – “including a nationwide ceasefire that includes Idlib.”
The majority of the Security Council spoke in favor of a ceasefire in Syria. A resolution that would have officially called for this cease-fire was blocked by Russia. The four European members of the body, France, Germany, Belgium, and Estonia, also called for a joint declaration to end the escalation of violence in Idlib.
NATO is cautious about Ankara’s wishes
The short-term security council meeting convened after an air raid on the Turkish army in the northern Syrian province of Idlib had been requested by, among others, Germany, France, and the United States. According to Turkish sources, at least 33 soldiers were killed in the attack on Thursday. Ankara then asked for assistance from NATO and the international community. In retaliation, Turkey reportedly attacked Syrian government forces in Syria on Friday night. NATO assured Turkey of its solidarity in the Syria conflict but did not promise any additional support.
Idlib in northwestern Syria is the last major rebel area in the civil war country. With military support from Russia, the Syrian army has been taking action against Islamist and jihadist militias there since December. Assad wants to bring the last militia stronghold in the country back under his control.
Turkey supports Islamist rebels in the conflict. It had reached an agreement with Russia, the Syrian government’s protecting power, to set up a de-escalation zone in Idlib, and set up observation posts there. A ceasefire actually applies. In recent weeks, Syria has continued to advance in the area with Russian support.