Turkey to Press Russia to Restore Calm in Syria’s Idlib
i24 News – Vladimir Putin is hosting Tayyip Erdogan at Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi, where the Turkish leader will press for a return to a ceasefire they agreed to last year to end a Russian and Syrian army assault on Turkey-backed fighters in Syria’s Idlib region.
The ceasefire has prevented another major military escalation, but rebel fighters say Russia has stepped up air strikes around Idlib over the last week.
“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 defense 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 deployed thousands of troops in northern Syria to support insurgent forces opposed to Assad. Ankara has been involved in the Syrian Civil War since 2011 when the conflict started.
This summer the US added Turkey, a NATO ally, to its list of countries implicated in the use of child soldiers. Washington accuses Turkey of providing “tangible support” to the Sultan Murad division in Syria that the US said recruited and used child soldiers.