19 September 2020

Turkey, Russia to discuss tensions in Idlib, Syria

On heals of 3-hour session last week, delegations in Ankara to discuss escalating situation in northwestern Syria
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File photo - Photo Desk

Delegations from Turkey and Russia will meet on Monday for a second time following a weekend session in the Turkish capital Ankara, reports Anadolu Agency.

According to diplomatic sources, the Turkish and Russia delegations will hold the meeting roughly at noon and are set to mull over escalating the situation in the Idlib de-escalation zone in northwestern Syria.

The delegations had discussed steps to boost the political process in the war-torn country in a three-hour meeting Saturday that stressed the need to ensure peace on the ground. They decided to resume talks in the coming weeks.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal chaired the Turkish delegation, with representatives from the National Defense Ministry, General Staff and National Intelligence Organization.

The Russian side -- chaired by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin and special envoy on Syria Alexander Lavrentiev -- comprised of representatives from military and intelligence circles.

On Feb. 3, an Assad regime attack in Idlib martyred seven Turkish soldiers and one civilian contractor working with the Turkish military and injured over a dozen people.

In retaliation, Turkey struck over 50 targets and killed 76 Syrian soldiers.

Idlib has been a stronghold of opposition and anti-government armed groups since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

In September 2018, Turkey and Russia agreed to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.

But more than 1,800 civilians there have been killed in attacks by the regime and Russian forces since then, flouting both the 2018 cease-fire and a new one that started on Jan. 12.

More than 1.7 million Syrians have moved near the Turkish border due to intense attacks over the past year.

Turkey remains the country with most refugees in the world, hosting more than 3.7 million Syrians since the start of the Syrian civil war.

Kamruzzaman


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