Russian Ambassador to Turkey Alexey Yerkhov said that he has started receiving threats amid the deterioration of the situation in Idlib, Syria.
“I have been receiving direct threats,” he told Sputnik-Turkey in an interview.
According to the diplomat, anti-Russian comments have started appearing in the Turkish segment of social media. “There’s escalation in Syria. Agreed: these are very painful developments and troubling days… But look at the terrible madness on social networks,” he remarked.
He cited several statements that had been addressed to Russians: “Say goodbye to life”; “No one will mourn for you”; “The time has come to burn”.
The diplomat observed that a similar situation was observed in the media and on social networks five years ago, but then “the cause was not Idlib, but Aleppo”. Yerkhov also drew attention to the fate of his predecessor, Andrei Karlov, who was assassinated in Ankara while speaking at an art exhibition on December 19, 2016. He was shot in the back by the off-duty police officer Mevlut Altintas, who then shouted “Do not forget Aleppo, do not forget Syria”. The perpetrator was later shot dead by Turkish security forces.
On February 10, the Turkish Defense Ministry reported that Syrian government forces had shelled a Turkish observation point in the Idlib province, killing five Turkish soldiers and injuring five more. Turkey then carried out a counterattack against Syrian positions.
Turkish President Recep Erdogan later accused the Assad regime and the Russian military – which is supporting the Syrian army – of attacking civilians in Idlib. He also said that 14 Turkish soldiers had been killed in shelling in Idlib, and another 45 wounded. Erdogan also warned that Turkey will attack the Syrian forces wherever it can if even one more Turkish soldier is injured in Idlib.
The Russian Defense Ministry refuted Erdogan’s accusations and said that the crisis in the de-escalation zone had come about because Turkey failed to keep its promise to separate the moderate opposition from the radical terrorists. On February 13, Russian Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov and his Turkish colleague, General Yasar Guler, discussed the situation in Syria on the phone.