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Erdogan Says Turkey Won’t Watch Killings in Idlib From Sidelines

Turkey won’t watch the killings of tens of thousands of innocent people from the sidelines, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said after Russian President Vladimir Putin rejected his call for a cease-fire in Idlib, Syria’s last rebel stronghold.

Turkey won’t be part of a game to further the interests of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Erdogan said. He had warned earlier of a looming “catastrophe” as the Damascus regime’s forces prepare to fight the last major battle of the seven-year civil war.

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“We will neither watch from the sidelines nor participate in such a game,” Erdogan said in a message on Twitter, several hours after Putin on Friday rebuffed his call for a cease-fire in Idlib at a summit in Tehran. Erdogan warned at the summit that the province, home to almost 3 million people, is at risk of turning into “a lake of blood.”

Turkey, which is sheltering the largest number of Syrian refugees in the world, is bracing for a fresh wave of refugees from Idlib, where tens of thousands of radical militants and Turkey-backed moderate rebels are threatened by a looming attack by Syrian forces who are reinforced from the air by Russian warplanes.

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“Idlib is a ticking bomb. We can turn it off and start a new process in Syria if the international community gets serious about the Syrian war and shows that they do care about the Syrian people,” Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin wrote in an article published by Daily Sabah on Saturday. “Any attack on this province of 3.5 million people will lead to a major humanitarian catastrophe. It will trigger another wave of migration into Turkey and from there to Europe and elsewhere,” and undermine all political efforts under both the Geneva and Astana processes. Read more

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Erdogan Says Turkey Won’t Watch Killings in Idlib From Sidelines