In an interview with AP, Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said that Turkey would not vacate any of its 12 observation posts in Idlib and warned that Turkish soldiers were under orders to retaliate forcefully against Assad attacks on the military posts.
Russia and Syrian regime carry out air strikes in Idlib leading to fresh casualties, even as Ankara dispatches more reinforcements to counter regime incursions in ceasefire zone, a war monitor and activists say.
If the Syrian regime does not retreat from Turkish observation posts in Idlib, Turkey will use force, President Erdogan warned at a parliamentary meeting.
"We fully support Turkey’s justified self-defence actions in response" to attacks, said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Syria and Russia's assault on Idlib can trigger a domino effect of humanitarian and political catastrophes.
The World Health Organization has concerns that conditions in the violence-plagued region are conducive to the outbreak of diseases.
Renewed violence tightened the noose around Syria's last major rebel-held bastion and deepened an already dire humanitarian crisis.
A new cessation of hostilities agreement between Russia and Turkey, who support the opposite sides in the conflict, went into effect last week but violence has continued.
"We are trying to prevent them with some measures, but it's not easy. It's difficult, they are humans too," Turkey's President Erdogan says, as crisis worsens in Syria's flashpoint Idlib province.
Assad loyalists continue to kill civilians in their bombardment of northern Syria, with tens of thousands ending up displaced.
"We will never withdraw from the zone," says Hayat Tahrir al Sham, the largest militant group in northwestern Idlib, two days after regime announced a truce between it and opposition forces.
UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock tells Security Council to take action to end the "carnage" in Syria's Idlib province, saying the Council members have "done nothing for 90 days as the carnage continues in front of your eyes."
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