Russian delegation to visit Turkey

Russian delegation to visit Turkey

Russian delegation to visit Turkey

A delegation from Russia is expected to visit Turkey on Feb. 8, amid heightened tensions between Ankara and Damascus, Turkey’s top diplomat has said.

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Feb. 7 said that a Russian delegation will visit Turkey on Feb. 8 to discuss the recent developments in Idlib.

Speaking during a joint press conference with his Slovakian counterpart Miroslav Lajcak, Çavuşoğlu also said that Ankara is reassessing the situation with Moscow, which is the Syrian regime’s guarantor. He said that he discussed the situation with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in multiple phone calls.

Çavuşoğlu also conveyed that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russia’s Vladimir Putin agreed on a delegation-level meeting during their most recent phone conversation two days ago.

The delegation will visit Turkey on Feb. 8 and “if needed,” high-level talks between the president is expected to be held, Çavuşoğlu said.

Çavuşoğlu also added that many Syrians became displaced due to intensified regime attacks.

“The regime attacked our soldiers as well; we have eight martyrs,” he said, adding that Turkey retaliated the attack in a much intense manner.

In a rare military confrontation between Turkey and the Syrian regime’s forces on Feb. 3, seven Turkish soldiers and a Turkish civilian member of the military were killed.

“We conveyed our determination on this to Russia. We will do what it takes to stop this humanitarian tragedy or disaster,” Çavuşoğlu said.

Syrian troops have been advancing since December into Idlib. Turkish troops are deployed in some of those rebel-held areas to monitor an earlier cease-fire that has since collapsed.

In its latest advance, the regime forces captured the strategic town of Saraqeb, near the Turkish border.

Turkey had sent in new reinforcements on Feb. 6 and threatened to use force to compel the Syrian forces to retreat by the end of the month.

“Our aim is to stop the regime’s aggression and this cruelty and to continue Constitutional Committee meetings,” he said. “[Our aim is to] accelerate the political process.”

The top diplomat also said that talks for a political solution have been started with Russia and Iran within the framework of Astana and Sochi peace talks and these have yielded benefits.

“Nevertheless, the aggression of the regime, who do not believe in the political process and thinks peace will come with a military solution, has increased,” Çavuşoğlu said. He also added that he finds the Syrian regime’s military approach “very wrong.”