Turkey, Russia hold second round of Idlib talks
Russian and Turkish delegations held two-day consultations in Moscow on Feb. 17-18, aiming to ease the tense situation in the Syrian province of Idlib.
The Russian delegation, led by presidential envoy for Syria Sergey Vershinin, and the Turkish delegation, headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal, tried to find a solution for the latest outbreak of violence in the Idlib de-escalation zone.
In addition to the diplomats, both delegations include representatives of military and intelligence services.
According to Turkish diplomatic sources, the Turkish delegation stressed the need to rapidly reduce the fighting and prevent further worsening of the humanitarian situation in the region.
Another point on the agenda included measures that could be taken in Idlib to ensure the full implementation of the agreements reached under the Sochi memorandum.
Turkey emphasized the need to de-escalate tensions in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province during talks with Russian counterparts in Moscow, its Foreign Ministry said on Feb. 17, adding discussions would continue on Feb. 18.
Turkish and Russian officials discussed precautions that could be taken to fully implement prior agreements and halt violations in Idlib, the ministry said.
The Syrian regime’s offensive has disrupted Ankara and Moscow’s fragile cooperation after 13 Turkish soldiers were killed by two separate Syrian attacks in the past two weeks. Turkey retaliated to both attacks, destroying several Syrian targets.
Ankara and Moscow have failed to reach an accord after a call between Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Vladimir Putin and a meeting between their foreign ministers at the weekend and after two days of talks in Ankara last week.
Turkey restarts joint Syria patrols with Russia
Turkey has restarted joint patrols with the Russian military in northeast Syria after a two-week pause, Russia said late Feb. 17, as a Syrian government offensive in the Idlib region continued to strain Moscow’s ties with Ankara.
Turkey and Russia have jointly patrolled Syrian territory near the Turkish border since October. But Turkish forces had not shown up since Feb. 3, the Interfax news agency cited a Russian Defense Ministry official as saying.
A Turkish security source said on Feb. 7 that Ankara’s joint patrols with Moscow had been postponed because of weather conditions. Their suspension coincided with rising tensions between the two countries over Idlib.