US operation in Idlib discussed at security meeting in Ankara

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 10.08.2017 22:49

Measures to be taken against the effects of a possible U.S. operation in Idlib were discussed in a high-level security meeting in Ankara yesterday.

The one-and-a-half-hour meeting on Wednesday was held at the office of the Çankaya Prime Ministry and was attended by Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın and the head of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Hakan Fidan.

According to an article in Habertürk daily, the possibility of U.S. intervention militarily in the fight against Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in Idlib and the potential outcomes of such intervention were discussed in the meeting.

Last week, the U.S. warned that a takeover of the rebel-held northwestern province of Idlib by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham would have grave consequences and make it difficult to dissuade Russia from renewing bombardments of the area that recently stopped.

In an online letter, the top U.S. State Department official in charge of Syria policy, Michael Ratney, said the recent offensive by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham had cemented its grip on the province and put "the future of northern Syria in grave danger." Recently, it was reported that many U.S. navy seals were stationed in the village of Arsal in Lebanon near the Syrian border.

During Wednesday's security meeting, top Turkish officials discussed steps to protect Turkey's border security and evaluated the military, diplomatic and civilian measures to prevent a humanitarian tragedy in the region. As a result, it was decided to close the Cilvegözü border gate to all activities, except for the delivery of humanitarian aid, for 15 days as a precautionary measure if the operation takes place. Additionally, officials reviewed the situation surrounding military troops near the border.

Turkey's possible military operation in Afrin also was also on the table during the meeting.

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