By Emin Avundukluoglu
ANKARA (AA) - Amid ongoing clashes in Syria's northwestern Idlib province, a senior Turkish politician demanded opposing countries withdraw behind previously agreed-upon lines.
"The party countries in Idlib should immediately retreat to the locations where they should be, and the cease-fire should immediately be secured," Devlet Bahceli, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader, told his party's parliamentary group.
Bahceli called on the Russian-backed Syrian Bashar al-Assad regime to pull its forces back from Turkish observation posts surrounding Idlib by the end of February.
"Turkey is not joking. News of more martyrs will be costly for Assad, who will pay the price across all of Syria," he said.
In September 2018, Turkey and Russia agreed to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.
But more than 1,800 civilians have been killed in attacks by regime and Russian forces since then, flouting both the 2018 cease-fire and a new one that started on Jan. 12.
Bahceli said that meetings in Moscow between Turkish and Russian delegations for permanent peace and cease-fire were an appropriate and positive step.
"Turkey stands behind its word until the end," he said.
Russian and Turkish delegations began talks on Monday, aiming to address the tense situation in Idlib.
Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal is leading Turkey's delegation at the closed-door talks held in the Russian Foreign Ministry, while Russia's Presidential Envoy for Syria Sergey Vershinin is heading Moscow's.