‘We fought Russia 16 times and will fight it again,’ warns Erdogan

A member of an expert body advising Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hinted that Ankara is prepared to go to war with Russia after tensions over Syria’s Idlib province escalated over the past 24 hours.

Mesut Hakki Casin, who is a member of Turkey’s Security and Foreign Policy Board advising Erdogan, made his comments shortly after 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in an airstrike by Russian-backed Syrian government forces in Idlib province.

We have fought Russia 16 times in the past, and we will fight it again.

The official pointed to Russia’s sizeable Muslim population and claimed that the country “will be shattered from inside” should an armed conflict break out between Moscow and Ankara.

NATO has held an urgent meeting to discuss the situation in Idlib on Friday, following a request by its member Turkey. Officials in Ankara vowed to retaliate against Damascus after its troops were attacked.

Moscow, meanwhile, said that the Syrian Army was repelling an offensive by the terrorist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an offshoot of al-Qaeda in Syria, and that the Turkish soldiers came under fire because were among the terrorist fighters. Russia explained that Ankara failed to notify it about its personnel being present in the area.

Tensions have been running high in Idlib in recent weeks; the province remains the last stronghold controlled by anti-government forces. Ankara has been accusing Damascus of violating the ceasefire and bombing civilians, while Russia said that Turkey has failed on its promise to clear the Idlib ‘de-escalation zone’ of jihadist groups.

Russia and Turkey have waged several major wars since the 16th century. The last time the two nations fought against each other was during WWI (1914-1918).

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