Syria's Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar al-Jaafari says the Damascus government and the Syrian nation will not allow Turkey to split and annex any part of the Arab country’s embattled northwestern province of Idlib.
“I can confirm that Syrian leadership besides Syrian people will not allow [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan or anyone else to repeat in Idlib what happened in Alexandretta," Jaafari said in an exclusive interview with the Arabic-language online newspaper Elnashra on Saturday.
In 1939, Turkey annexed the historically Syrian land of Alexandretta to its territory and renamed it as the province of Hatay. The region is located on the coast north of Latakia.
The Syrian envoy said there is no difference between Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "as they are both occupiers and aggressive."
"What we care about in Syria is the elimination of terrorism and the establishment of full control and sovereignty over Syrian soil. If Erdogan listens to the voice of wisdom, puts an end to his support for terrorism, refrains from destructive interference in Syria and stops wasting the blood of forces of his aggressive and occupying army, this will serve peace and stability of all peoples of the region, including the neighboring Turkish nation," he added.
Jaafari warned that if the Turkish president insists on his "aggressive approach, nothing will prevent us from continuing our war against terrorism and all those who support, arm, finance, and use it for political gains."
He went on to say that Turkey has violated the 2018 Sochi agreement, signed between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Erdogan, by converting Turkish observation points in Syria into safe havens to protect militant groups designated as terrorist, noting Ankara did not commit to withdraw terrorist groups to a distance of twenty kilometers (12.42 miles) west of the Abu Dahour road between Aleppo and Idlib.
“On the contrary, the number of terrorists, especially foreigners, increased in Idlib, and instead of withdrawing all tanks, rocket launchers and mortars from the demilitarized zone by October 10, 2018, thousands of soldiers plus heavy military hardware were deployed inside the Syrian territory. We never expected Erdogan to honor his pledges, because this simply means the end of his reckless adventures in Syria, and an end to his political and military interventions in other countries,” the Syrian UN ambassador pointed out.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Jaafari stated that the Israeli regime directly supports terrorist groups wreaking havoc in Syria, and mounts offensives on the Syrian soil to support them.
“The battle of Idlib is a key element of the final victory over terrorism. Everyone knows it, and the United Nations even explicitly points to such a fact in its official reports,” he said.
He concluded that despite the high prices that the Syrians have paid because of the war, "We have made important political and military achievements that will definitely benefit the resistance front. Our battle is part of a long war, and we will not retreat until we restore our rights in the occupied Golan Heights.
The remarks come two days after the Russian and Turkish presidents came to an agreement on a ceasefire regime in Idlib, where Turkish violations have brought about an unwarranted flare-up of already high levels of violence.
Putin and Erdogan announced the deal on Thursday at a joint press conference in Moscow after three hours of face-to-face talks.
According to the agreement, joint Russian-Turkish patrols will secure a six-kilometer-wide corridor along the M4 highway connecting the two government-held provinces of Latakia and Aleppo.
The ceasefire also consolidates Syrian control over the M5 highway which links the capital Damascus to the major cities of Hama, Homs and Aleppo.