Turkey urges Russia to stop pro-Assad attacks in Syria

Turkey urges Russia to stop pro-Assad attacks in Syria
3 min read
06 February, 2020
Turkey has urged Russia to stop aiding the brutal Assad regime in attacking Idlib.
Idlib is being attacked by brutal Assad forces [Getty]

Turkey urged Russia on Thursday to press for an end to the Syrian offensive in Idlib after a deadly flare-up this week.

"We expect Russia to stop the regime as soon as possible," Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in the Azerbaijani capital Baku in televised comments.

Turkey and Russia back opposing sides in the Syrian conflict, but have worked to find political solutions in the northwestern province of Idlib.

A renewed offensive by Assad regime forces has undermined existing peace agreements and led to deadly clashes between Turkish and Syrian forces in which more than 20 soldiers and personnel were killed on Monday.

Cavusoglu said Turkey and Russia were closely coordinating after the clashes, adding that a delegation from Russia was due to visit Turkey for further talks.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin later on Thursday said Turkey expected to establish a road map for the future during the delegation's visit but did not offer more details.

Read also: In Idlib, Assad's war machine has a lethal message - 'Leave or die'

"Our target on the ground in Idlib is not Russia," Cavusoglu said. "Who carried out the attack there? It is the regime."

He said Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin could meet "if needed".

"We should continue working together with Russia. If we are to solve problems there, we will solve them together," added Cavusoglu.

Turkey with Russia and Damascus ally Iran have held talks together as part of the Astana process which began in 2017 in the Kazakh capital, since re-named Nur-Sultan.

Kalin said there "could be" a meeting in March as part of the Astana process.

'Limit to our patience'

Erdogan on Wednesday urged Syria to withdraw its troops from Turkey's military observation posts in Idlib, warning that Turkey would take matters into its own hands if this was not done by the end of February.

Kalin told reporters in Ankara that there would be "serious consequences for every mistake made after this. We've told our Russian counterparts this."

Under a 2018 deal with Moscow, Turkey has 12 observation posts in Idlib aimed at preventing a regime offensive.

The spokesman said "the posts would remain where they are," adding that "whatever additional measures are needed for our soldiers' security, we are taking them."

The outposts at Morek and Surman are now encircled by regime forces, and Turkish troops at another post in Saraqeb shelled Syrian forces on Wednesday to prevent it also being surrounded, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Turkey has yet to comment on clashes at Saraqeb, but Cavusoglu said it would not allow "aggression" by the brutal Assad regime's forces.

"Of course there is a limit to our patience. After we had eight martyrs, we retaliated... If the regime keeps on its aggression, we will not stop there," he said.

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