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Turkish MP Rebuffs Call for Idlib Troop Pullout

Turkish MP Rebuffs Call for Idlib Troop PulloutTurkish MP Rebuffs Call for Idlib Troop Pullout

A Syrian government statement demanding Turkish troops’ withdrawal from the northwest city of Idlib is made to feed the domestic public opinion and should not be taken seriously, a senior MP with Turkey’s ruling party has told Al Jazeera.

Damascus on Saturday urged “immediate and unconditional withdrawal” of Turkish troops that have been deployed to Idlib to back the Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters, who are implementing a “de-escalation zone” deal agreed by Moscow, Ankara and Tehran in September.

A foreign ministry statement carried on state media said the entry of Turkish forces in Idlib “was a violation of international law and was not tied with the understandings that were reached between the guarantor states in the Astana process,” referring to Russia, Turkey and Iran.

The Syrian statement was made “to save the government’s face” in the eyes of the public there, Kani Torun, a senior MP and the deputy chair of the Turkish parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said.

“At the end of the day, foreign troops have entered the Syrian land and this has to be explained to the Syrian public in one way or another.”

Russia, Turkey and Iran agreed in the Kazakh capital of Astana in September to set up de-escalation zones for six months in various parts of the country.

Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, said on Friday that the de-escalation zones “were conducted in the framework of the Astana talks with the participation of the three guarantor countries —Russia, Turkey and Iran— and assistance from US and Jordanian observers and UN representatives.”

The Turkish army has started deploying troops and armored vehicles to Idlib on October 8 and begun setting up observation posts in the city on Friday, according to statements by the country’s general staff.

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