Turkish, Russian officials meet in Ankara to discuss Idlib

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 08.02.2020 21:48
Turkish military convoy drives through the village of Binnish, in Idlib province, Syria, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. AP Photo
Turkish military convoy drives through the village of Binnish, in Idlib province, Syria, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. (AP Photo)

Turkish and Russian senior officials met in Ankara to discuss developments in Idlib as Turkey continues to deploy forces on its border with Syria amid escalating tensions with the Assad regime.

The Turkish delegation, headed by Turkey's Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal, held a three-hour meeting with the Russian delegation, including Russian President's Special Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentiev and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin.

According to a statement by the Turkish foreign ministry, officials discussed steps to calm the situation in Idlib and agreed to continue meetings in the upcoming week.

Early Monday, the regime shelling of Turkish positions killed seven Turkish soldiers and a civilian.

"Our check-points in Idlib continue their duties as usual and are capable of protecting themselves," Turkey's Defence Ministry said, adding that they would respond to any new attack "in the harshest manner in accordance with legitimate defence."

In retaliation, Turkey struck more than 50 targets and killed 76 Syrian soldiers. The exchange between the two forces was their deadliest clash since Ankara sent troops to Syria in 2016.

An offensive by the Assad regime, backed by Russian airpower, against the last stronghold of opposition groups has drawn strong warnings from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Approximately 541,000 civilians have been displaced from settlements in Idlib's southern and southeastern and Aleppo's western and southern rural areas since November 2019.

Turkey remains the country with the most refugees in the world, hosting more than 3.7 million migrants since the start of the Syrian Civil War.

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