(Bloomberg) -- Russian-backed Syrian forces captured a strategic town in Idlib, leaving a third Turkish military outpost besieged along the province’s perimeter and increasing tensions in the area.
The taking of Saraqib late Thursday came a day after Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Syria to end its siege of two other Turkish military outposts in northwestern Idlib and threatened to break it himself. The town lies just 16 kilometers (10 miles) from Idlib’s center, and its fall gives Syrian forces control of a key juncture where highways linking the provinces of Aleppo, Idlib and Latakia intersect.
Erdogan Threatens to Force Syria to End Siege of Turk Troops
Relations between Ankara and Moscow have been strained since Syrian troops killed seven Turkish soldiers and a civilian on Monday in Idlib. Syria’s government is using Russian air support to try to vanquish onetime al-Qaeda affiliates and Turkey-backed rebels in the province.
“The Syrian regime should know well that we won’t leave any threat to our soldiers without a response,” Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for Erdogan, said before the town’s capture Thursday, ruling out the withdrawal of troops from 12 Turkish military outposts around Idlib.
“From now on, any mistake by the regime under the pretext of struggling against terrorism and terrorist groups will have grave consequences,” he said.
Kalin also opposed changing locations of Turkish outposts, saying that would violate the Sochi and Astana accords struck by Turkey, Russia and Iran to curtail fighting in northern Syria.
--With assistance from Firat Kozok.
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