Turkmen commander: We may retreat to Idlib if Bayırbucak falls
by Daily Sabah
ISTANBULFeb 03, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
Feb 03, 2016 12:00 am
Turkmens might withdraw from the Bayırbucak region to Idlib if the heavy Russia-backed regime offensives do not stop, a Turkmen commander said Tuesday.
Speaking to Milliyet daily, Bashar Molla, a Turkmen commander, said that regime forces together with Russian airstrikes target them from all sides, causing more than 2,000 civilians to evacuate on Saturday.
While Turkmen forces continue to put up a resistance, commanders of Turkmen militia groups complained about heavy offensives and lack of men amid the withdrawal from more than 20 villages.
"We have no choice but to resist. Our armed forces and number of militia is much fewer than the regime forces," he said, adding that Russian jets also hit civilian camps, including the Obin camp three days ago.
Molla said: "If the clashes continue at this level, we will have to retreat from Bayırbucak to Idlib. Turkmen soldiers will defend our lands until our last breath. Our concern is security for Turkmen civilians."
Russia-backed regime forces have increased offensives on the Bayırbucak Turkmen region, causing civilians to flee to Turkey to escape both ground and air attacks. More than 3,000 Turkmens have reportedly left the region so far.
Russia has been bombing villages in the Bayırbucak area in northern Syria to bolster the Damascus regime, which it has been a staunch ally since well before the crisis. After the emergence of the Syrian uprising in 2011 and the civil war that ensued, Turkmens have sided with moderate opposition forces and fight regime forces.
Concerning the Russian offensives, Turkish officials heavily criticized the intensified airstrikes on Turkmens, who are a Turkic ethnic group in Syria and Iraq and share some cultural ties with the Turks of Turkey.
Under Syria's Alawite minority and Baath regime led by President Bashar Assad, who succeeded his father Hafiz Assad, about 3 million Turkmens have faced oppression and discrimination for many years. Similar issues apply to related Turkmens in Iraq.