Russia, Turkey share ‘concerns’ over Syria - GulfToday

Russia, Turkey share ‘concerns’ over Syria


Vladimir Putin and Tayyip Erdogan hold a joint news conference in Zhukovsky outside Moscow on Tuesday. Reuters

The leaders of Russia and Turkey said Tuesday they shared deep concerns over fighting in northwestern Syria, with Ankara warning it would take the steps necessary to protect its troops there.

After meeting for talks near Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan said they hoped to work together to ease tensions in Idlib province.

Russian-backed government forces launched a ground offensive this month against Idlib, one of the last major areas of Syria outside government hands.

The fighting is threatening to increase tensions between Russia and Iran, who back President Bashar Al Assad’s regime, and Turkey which supports some rebel groups.

“The situation in the Idlib de-escalation zone is of serious concern to us and our Turkish partners,” Putin said at a press conference with Erdogan carried on Russian state television.

He said Turkey had “legitimate interests” to protect on its southern borders and supported the creation of a security zone in the area.

Putin said he and Erdogan had agreed “additional joint steps” to “normalise” the situation in Idlib, but did not provide details.

“The situation (in Idlib) has become so complicated that at this moment our troops are in danger,” Erdogan said.

“We do not want this to continue. All necessary steps will be taken here as needed.” Tuesday’s talks between Putin and Erdogan came ahead of a summit on Syria that will see the two leaders joined by Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani in Ankara on September 16. Erdogan said the September meeting “should contribute to peace in the region”.

Both leaders said they supported Syria’s territorial integrity, but Putin emphasised the need to keep fighting extremist forces in Idlib.

“Terrorists continue shelling the positions of Syrian government forces, trying to attack Russian military installations,” Putin said.

On Tuesday, clashes between anti-government fighters and regime forces in northwestern Syria killed 51 combattants on both sides, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor.

Putin and Erdogan met on the sidelines of the MAKS international air show on the outskirts of Moscow − a showcase for Russia’s military and civil aerospace industry.

Agence France-Presse

Related articles