Erdoğan says he will decide his Idlib stance after call with Putin
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks with reporters after Friday prayers in Istanbul, Turkey, on Feb. 21, 2020. (AA Photo)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he will speak by phone with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Feb. 21 evening and, based on those talks, will determine Turkey's stance on the military conflict in northwest Syria's Idlib region.
Speaking to reporters, Erdoğan said the French and German leaders had proposed to hold a four-way summit with Russia but that Putin had not yet responded.
He said that his conversation with Putin will take place at 06.00 p.m. local time [1500GMT].
"During this telephone conversation, we will discuss all the developments in Idlib," he said. "Right now the fight goes on with determination. And in these talks today, this call will determine our attitude."
The president also repeated that Turkey was not withdrawing its forces from Idlib. He added that some 12 tanks, three armored vehicles, 14 howitzers and two pickups have been destroyed in Idlib.
He also conveyed that some 150 regime forces have been "neutralized."
Erdoğan also said Turkey was continuing work setting up housing for Syrian migrants in a 30-35 kilometers-long "safe zone" in Syria along the border with Turkey.
In a phone call, Erdoğan said that attacks in Idlib, where a Russian-led Syrian regime's offensive has displaced hundreds of thousands of people and brought Ankara, Moscow and Damascus to the brink of confrontation, must be stopped.
"The president stressed the need to stop the aggression of the regime and its supporters in Idlib, and emphasized the importance of providing strong support through concrete actions to prevent a humanitarian crisis," the presidency said following the call with Merkel and Macron.
On Feb. 20, Macron and Merkel called Russian President Vladimir Putin to express their concern about the humanitarian situation in Idlib, urging an end to the conflict there, according to a German spokesman.