Turkish troops leave base in northwest Syria
Turkish military troops have been withdrawn from a military post in northwest Syria that was surrounded by Syrian government forces last year.
Sources familiar with the operation on Monday October 19, 2020, said the country is “consolidating its presence elsewhere in the region.”
The observation post at Morek was one of a dozen set up by Turkish soldiers in 2018 under an ill-fated deal to calm fighting between Syrian government troops and Turkey-backed rebels controlling the northwestern Idlib region.
Turkish officials have in the past ruled out pulling back from a single observation post, but the sources said there was no longer any military value in staying at Morek.
“The dismantling of the base has begun,” a senior Syrian opposition figure close to Turkey said.
He added that, “The withdrawal from the exposed position would take several days.”
Two other sources familiar with the operation, who asked not to be named, said the withdrawal started early on Monday. “The Turkish armed forces are not considering evacuating another observation post at this stage,” one of them said.
Syrian rebels say Turkey retains between 10,000 and 15,000 troops in the pocket of northwest Syria, alongside rebel fighters backed by Ankara and jihadist forces it has committed to disarm and contain.