Ankara's UN envoy says Turkey will continue to respond by all necessary means against any attacks by the Assad regime on Turkish troops.
Turkey is not abandoning the observation posts in Syria's Idlib area, Ankara’s UN envoy said on Wednesday.
Speaking at UN Security Council meeting in New York, Feridun Sinirlioglu said Turkey will continue to respond by all necessary means against any attacks by the Assad regime on Turkish troops.
Last week, five more Turkish soldiers were killed when they were deliberately targeted by Assad regime forces. Turkish military immediately retaliated in self-defence.
"We will not withdraw our forces and we will not abandon our observation posts. It is the regime who should withdraw from its current positions until the end of this month," said Sinirlioglu.
He said Turkish security forces are in Idlib to stabilise the situation and to preserve the de-escalation area.
"Our military presence and reinforcements are fully in line with the Sochi Memorandum of September 2018."
"The only option out of the biggest humanitarian horror story of the twenty-first century is a lasting ceasefire," he said.
He also said Syrians feel abandoned by the world and are awaiting the international community's help in Idlib.
We’ll continue to respond by all necessary means against immediate threats. We will not withdraw our forces or abandon observation posts. Turkish forces are in #Idlib to preserve its de-escalation area status.— Turkish Mission to the UN (@Turkey_UN) February 19, 2020
Russia objects to UN call for ceasefire
Meanwhile, Russia objected to the UN Security Council adopting a statement that would have called for a ceasefire in northwest Syria, diplomats said, after a tense closed-door meeting.
"We tried very hard to have a press statement calling for cessation of hostilities and humanitarian access to Idlib," Nicolas de Riviere, French ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters.
"Basically Russia said no, which is very painful."
"There is no statement ... It was not possible," confirmed his Belgian counterpart, Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve, the current council president.
One diplomat said that during the meeting, Russia had angrily criticised Western nations for not understanding its position. "The council is completely paralysed," the diplomat said.
Russia's opposition to the statement was backed by China, diplomats said.
The UN envoy to Syria said earlier the country was on the brink of worsening violence after an exchange of fierce threats between key players Turkey and Russia.
"I cannot report any progress in ending the current violence in the northwest or in reconvening the political process," Geir Pedersen told the council in New York.
"Russian and Turkish delegations have met intensively in recent days ... but no understanding has yet emerged," he said.
"To the contrary, public statements from different quarters, Syrian and international, suggest an imminent danger of further escalation."
Syrian aid workers are calling for an urgent ceasefire and international help for nearly a million people fleeing the regime's onslaught in Idlib — the biggest wave of displaced civilians in the nine-year conflict.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday warned that Turkey would launch an offensive into Syria unless Damascus pulled its forces back by the end of the month.
"We are counting down, we are making our final warnings," Erdogan said in a televised speech.
He called for Syrian regime forces to retreat behind Turkey's military posts in Idlib, which were set up under a 2018 deal with Russia designed to hold off a regime advance.
Russia quickly responded to Erdogan's statement, saying that any operation against Syrian regime forces would be "the worst scenario."
Turkey, a supporter of some opposition groups in Idlib, has been pushing for a renewed ceasefire in talks with Russia, which backs the Syrian regime.
Ankara is eager to prevent another flood of refugees into its territory adding to the 3.7 million Syrians it already hosts.
The UN said 900,000 people had been displaced in "horrendous conditions" since December 1, more than 500,000 of them children.
At the segment of the Security Council meeting that was held in public, German ambassador Christoph Heusgen said it was time for UN chief Antonio Guterres "to step up to the plate."
"We have an immense responsibility that we face here as the United Nations, as the Security Council, to stop what is happening," Heusgen said.