by Jordan Hilger, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow Tuesday to protest what he says is a violation of a 2017 de-escalation agreement by Syria.
Syrian state media reported Friday that Assad’s government forces had recaptured all of northern Hama province, which they have not controlled since 2012, and surrounded one of the 12 Turkish military observatories dotted across neighboring Idlib.
Nihat Ali Ozcan of the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey told Bloomberg that Assad’s goal is to regain a highway stretching from Aleppo to Damascus, once a major throughway of Syrian commerce, and that “if he can succeed, that will further press the jihadists, rebels and refugees against Turkey.”
Since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Syria’s neighbor to the north has taken in 3.6 million refugees, and built a cement wall to stem the influx of people displaced by fighting between Assad’s forces and rebel groups to the south.
A de-escalation zone was established in the Idlib threshold between Syria and Turkey in 2017 by Russia, Turkey, and Iran, and a ceasefire governing the same province signed by Syria and Turkey last year, but both Syria and Turkey have said the other side has not respected the ceasefire, and Assad’s government forces are intent on eradicating the last stronghold of rebels in the country there.