| 29 May 2024, Wednesday |

Turkey to press Russia to restore calm in Syria’s Idlib

Russian and Turkish presidents will meet on Wednesday to discuss reducing fresh bloodshed in northwest Syria and possibly increasing Moscow’s military defense system sales to Ankara, according to Turkish authorities.

Vladimir Putin is meeting Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi, Russia’s Black Sea resort, where he will urge for a restoration to a truce reached last year to stop a Russian-Syrian army assault on Turkey-backed militants in Syria’s Idlib province.

Although the truce has averted a significant military escalation, opposition fighters believe Russia has increased air raids around Idlib in recent weeks.

“We are abiding by the principles of the agreement reached with Russia,” Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told reporters. “We expect the other side to also abide by their responsibilities under the agreement.”

Russia’s defence ministry said that work to implement an earlier Russo-Turkish deal on Syria was continuing, including joint patrols involving Russian military police. It said there had been heavy shelling by Islamist fighters in the Idlib area.

Moscow says Russian forces are in Syria at the official invitation of President Bashar al-Assad and that the presence of other forces is hindering his efforts to reunite and rebuild the war-shattered country.

Turkey has thousands of troops in northern Syria and supports insurgents opposed to Assad, who with Moscow’s support has driven them back to a small pocket of territory on the Turkish border.

In March last year Turkish land and air forces stemmed a Russian and Syrian army assault which displaced 1 million people, brought Ankara and Moscow close to direct confrontation, and threatened another wave of migration into Turkey, which is already hosting 3.6 million Syrian refugees.

  • Reuters