Turkish officials have increased security at the Russian Embassy in Ankara in the wake of threats addressed to Ambassador Alexey Yerkhov due to an escalation of tensions in Syria’s Idlib, spokesperson for the Russian diplomatic mission in Turkey Irina Kasimova informed TASS on Friday.
“Yes, it is true, tensions have escalated lately. Due to this, we asked the Turkish officials to apply additional security measures,” she said.
According to Kasimova, the Russian ambassador is receiving messages warning him against going out on the streets of Ankara. “We understand that the people who write this are unlikely to go out and kill, this is a way of expressing their anger. However, we need to take this into account,” she noted.
Earlier, the Russian Foreign Ministry noted a rise in tensions in the Idlib de-escalation zone in the past few weeks. The Russian and Turkish military attempted to establish a ceasefire in the region, however, terrorist attacks persisted. As a result, military specialists from Russia and Turkey were killed.
On February 5, Syrian government forces entered the town of Saraqib, an outpost of the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group (banned in Russia) in the Idlib province. Saraqib is a town of strategic importance that sits at the junction of two main roads connecting Latakia and Damascus with Aleppo.
On February 10, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan informed of casualties among the Turkish military in Idlib. In response, the Turkish military hit over 120 targets of the Syrian army. Ankara announced deployment of additional forces to the area. Earlier, Russian and Turkish diplomats held talks on Idlib in Ankara, with Moscow expecting to continue the discussion in the near future.
Idlib is the only Syrian region that has been controlled by illegal armed groups since 2012. A northern de-escalation zone was set up in Idlib in 2017 to give shelter to militants who refused to surrender arms in Eastern Ghouta and Syria’s southern regions. The Turkish army has 12 observation outposts in the province.