Erdoğan, Putin talk Syria over phone before Astana talks

Erdoğan, Putin talk Syria over phone before Astana talks

Erdoğan, Putin talk Syria over phone before Astana talks

AFP photo

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, discussed Syria over a phone call on Jan. 12 before scheduled peace talks in the Kazakh capital of Astana, and hours after Putin talked with his Kazakh counterpart. 

Erdoğan and Putin planned the intra-Syria talks slated to take place in Astana, according to a Turkish presidential source, state-run Anadolu Agency has reported. 

“They pointed out that the cease-fire agreements reached between the Syrian government and the moderate opposition through the mediation of Russia and Turkey have been mostly complied with and agreed to continue their joint efforts to prepare the intra-Syrian talks in Astana, Kazakhstan,” the Kremlin said in a statement. 

The phone call came hours after Putin spoke with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

“The two leaders discussed preparations for the upcoming international conference on Syrian conflict resolution in Astana, and several other aspects of bilateral cooperation,” the Kremlin said in a separate statement. 

A nationwide cease-fire deal in Syria was reached in December, 2016 with the efforts of the two countries. 

U.N. Syria Envoy Staffan de Mistura on Jan. 12 said Syria’s cessation of hostilities was largely holding but some humanitarian aid was still not entering besieged areas where food was running out, as reported by Reuters. 

Meanwhile, the Syrian government on Jan. 12 killed at least six civilians in air strikes, including four children in Aleppo despite a fragile two-week-old truce, according to the AFP.

In the neighboring Idlib province, at least 22 jihadists were killed in air strikes over the past 24 hours, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said. Some were carried out by a Syrian regime aircraft, while others by a U.S.-led coalition aircraft.

On Jan. 11, the Syrian regime had reached a deal for the army to enter a rebel-held area near Damascus and restore the capital’s water supply, a provincial governor said.

Opposition sources denied there was such a deal, but a source inside the Wadi Barada region reported that several hundreds of civilians were leaving as part of the agreement.

Syria’s state news agency SANA also reported people were leaving the region, among them several dozen fighters.

The deal came after weeks of fighting in the region, 15 kilometers (10 miles) northwest of Damascus, which threatened a fragile truce in place since Dec. 30, 2016.