Turkey urges Russia to halt regime attacks in Syria | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 07, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 07, 2020

Turkey urges Russia to halt regime attacks in Syria

Turkey yesterday urged Russia to press for an end to the Syrian offensive in the last rebel bastion of 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.

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 Syrian 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.

“Our target on the ground in Idlib is not Russia,” he said.

“Who carried out the attack there? It is the regime. Who attacked our soldiers? It’s the regime ... Who harassed our observation posts? It is the regime.”

He said President Recep Tayyip 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.

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.

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

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 Assad’s forces.

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