Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and Russia's President Vladimir Putin during a meeting to discuss situation in Syria. (Photo Credit: Mikhail Metzel/TASS)

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan do not rule out that they could meet in the immediate future.

According to the Kremlin press service, the two leaders held a telephone conversation on Friday. “Both sides highlighted the need for additional measures to stabilize the situation in northwestern Syria,” the press service noted.

The Kremlin stressed that the parties “agreed to intensify relevant inter-agency consultations and explore the possibility of holding a top-level meeting in the immediate future.”

“[They] continued to exchange views on the situation in Syria and voiced grave concern over the escalation of tensions in Idlib resulting in loss of life, including among Turkish military servicemen,” the statement reads. Both sides also “highlighted the importance of improving coordination between the Russian and Turkish Defense Ministries.”

The presidents hashed over the priorities of the fight against terrorism in a phone call, the Kremlin press service informed.

“The fight against international terrorist groups was highlighted as a priority,” the statement reads. The two leaders also discussed the implementation of Russian-Turkish agreements made in 2018 and 2019.

Situation in Idlib

The situation in Idlib escalated in early February after the Russian and Turkish militaries had made another attempt to ensure a ceasefire. In response, terrorists intensified their attacks. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on February 19 that Ankara was ready to use all of its military strength if a military operation in Idlib began. He added that such an operation was just a matter of time as all preparations for it had been completed.

The situation in Idlib deteriorated again on Friday. Ankara said that an airstrike by Syrian government forces had killed 33 Turkish soldiers. Shortly after that, the Turkish armed forces carried out strikes against Syrian troops, clarifying that more than 200 targets had been hit. Meanwhile, the Russian Defense Ministry said Russia’s Aerospace Forces had nothing to do with the incident.

Idlib is the only region in Syria still largely controlled by illegal armed groups. A de-escalation zone was set up in Idlib in 2017, and militants who refused to lay down their arms moved there from the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta and the country’s south.

Source:TASS, February 28, 2020