President Trump on Thursday warned Russia, Syria and Iran against killing civilians in Syria’s Idlib province and said Turkey was working hard to stop the “carnage.”
“Russia, Syria, and Iran are killing, or on their way to killing, thousands of innocent civilians in Idlib Province. Don’t do it! Turkey is working hard to stop this carnage,” Trump tweeted.
Meanwhile, Russian state media on Thursday posted video of Russian troops occupying Tal Samin, a town that was home to a former US military outpost before Trump decided to withdraw most American troops from northern Syria in October to clear the way for a Turkish invasion.
Russian military have secured the village as Moscow continues to patrol strategic areas along the Turkish-Syrian border, and the Russian flag was raised atop an abandoned building, Russia Today reported.
The video, originally shown by the Zvezda TV channel, shows armored jeeps with Russian flags entering the village, with scores of armed troops securing the area.
Syrian and Russian forces have intensified their bombardment of targets in Idlib, the last significant rebel pocket of Syrian resistance, and President Bashar al-Assad has vowed to recapture it.
The leaders of Turkey, Russia and Iran agreed in Ankara in September to “de-escalate” conflict in Idlib after a months-long campaign that forced at least 500,000 civilians to flee.
With diplomacy on a Syria peace settlement stalled, the de-escalation deal has been unravelling and the fighting growing more fierce.
Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said this week that Russia will help trying to stop attacks in Idlib after talks with a Turkish delegation in Moscow.
Trump has sought a close relationship with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, even after Ankara’s incursion against American Kurdish allies in Syria and Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defence system.
Russian military policemen had already secured several US bases, including an airfield in Kobani, which were abandoned after Trump announced the withdrawal of American forces from Syria in the fall — a decision that drew bipartisan criticism that the president was giving a gift to Erdogan, Assad and Vladimir Putin.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ripped Trump’s decision in October, calling it “a grave strategic mistake.”
The House overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan resolution that same month rebuking Trump for his pullout of troops in Syria — which he announced on Twitter — that paved the way for a Turkish offensive against US Kurdish allies.
The House voted 354-60 on the measure that opposed Trump’s decision to end US military efforts at the border that prevented Turkish military operations against Syrian Kurdish forces.