Turkey's expectation from the Russian delegation in Wednesday's meeting is to ensure the Bashar Assad regime permanently halts attacks in Idlib, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said.
The foreign minister noted that the regime forces need to retreat behind the lines specified in the Sochi agreement.
He continued by saying that this will not be possible without establishing a cease-fire in the area, and the delegations will discuss details of this in the meeting.
Çavuşoğlu noted that the delegation that will attend Wednesday’s meeting will include military and intelligence officials.
He highlighted once again that they need to de-escalate tensions in the region to facilitate the return of civilians to their homes amid harsh winter conditions.
“Opening humanitarian corridors for these people is on our agenda, but this cannot happen without reaching a cease-fire,” Çavuşoğlu said.
The talks were prompted by the recent escalation in Idlib where Assad regime forces killed 13 Turkish soldiers.
Turkey condemned Russia's policy of wanting to take over Idlib territory but not care for its people.
The U.N. recently confirmed that at least 1,700 civilians were killed and nearly 900,000 were displaced in the Idlib de-escalation zone in the nine months of violence perpetrated by Russia and the Assad regime.
The Russian side proposed a map that moves the Sochi deal borders north of the strategic M4 and M5 highways. The map, which puts 60% of Idlib under regime control and envisages the relocation of Turkish observation posts to the north, was rejected by the Turkish delegation.
The Russian delegation's claim that Hmeimim Air Base was being attacked was similarly rejected by the Turkish delegation, which pointed out that Hmeimim is southwest of Idlib, while the regime’s attacks take place in Idlib’s southeast, leaving a wide gap between the two points.
Turkish officials say the country is determined not to roll back the Sochi deal and to take the necessary steps to end the Assad regime’s aggression. They highlight that the country does not aim to gain territory but wants to end the humanitarian disaster and displacement, and will make no concessions on its observation points.
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