Representatives of Russia and Turkey confirmed their goal of reducing tensions in Idleb, at consultations on Syria in Ankara, while continuing to fight terrorists, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
The Russian delegation included Russia’s Special Presidential Envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentyev, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin and representatives of the Defense Ministry. The Turkish delegation was led by Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal, the statement says.
“The sides continued discussing specific steps for achieving durable stabilization of the situation in the Idleb de-escalation zone, based on the full implementation of the memorandum dated May 4, 2017, and the memorandum dated Sept. 17, 2018,” the Russian Foreign Ministry informed.
“Both sides confirmed their goal to reduce the tensions “on the ground” while continuing the war on terrorists, recognized as such by the UN Security Council, and also to protect civilians inside and outside the de-escalation zone and render emergency humanitarian assistance to all those who need it,” the statement reads.
The tensions in Syria’s Idleb region escalated on Thursday after militants launched a large-scale offensive, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. In the early hours of Friday, the Syrian government forces conducted strikes on their positions, which, as Ankara claims, killed 33 Turkish soldiers. In response, Turkey’s Air Force conducted strikes on Syrian troops, later specifying that it had hit more than 200 targets.
The Russian Defense Ministry told reporters that Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (one of the names of Jabhat al-Nusra which is outlawed in Russia) unleashed a large-scale offensive in Idleb on Thursday. The killed Turkish soldiers were among the advancing terrorists, the Russian Defense Ministry stated. Russia’s air task force was not employed in that area, the ministry said.
Russian and Turkish Presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the Idleb situation over the phone on Friday. They stressed the need to take additional measures to normalize the situation in the Idleb province and agreed to consider holding a summit soon.
This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.