Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says that he hopes for Idlib ceasefire deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Talks with Putin on Thursday come amid surge in fighting between Turkish and Syrian forces in northwest Syria.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that he hopes to reach a deal on a ceasefire in Syria’s northwest when he meets his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin later in the week.
“I will go to Moscow on Thursday to discuss the developments in Syria,” Erdogan told members of his party in the capital, Ankara.
“I hope that Putin will take the necessary measures there, such as a ceasefire, and that we will find a solution to this affair,” Erdogan said in the televised speech on Monday, which came amid rising tensions following a surge in fighting between Turkish and Syrian forces in the war-torn country’s Idlib region.
Turkey, which backs certain groups in the last rebel-held stronghold of Idlib, has sent thousands of troops into the province, where a fierce Russia-backed government offensive has forced almost one million people to flee towards the closed Turkish border since December.
On Sunday, following the killing of dozens of its soldiers in recent days, Turkey confirmed it had launched a full-scale military operation against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces but said it did not seek a direct confrontation with Russia.
“We do not aim to face-off with Russia. Our only aim is to stop the Syrian regime’s massacres, radical groups, the displacement of civilians,” Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said.
In his speech, Erdogan said that Turkish forces on Sunday rendered unusable the Syrian government’s Nayrab military airport, east of Aleppo city.
“We don’t need anybody’s aid or anybody’s support, we will continue our operations on our own,” Erdogan said.
Also on Monday, the Kremlin said that cooperation with Turkey on Syria is a top priority, confirming the meeting between Erdogan and Putin scheduled for March 5.
“Russia attaches “great importance to cooperation with our Turkish partners,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Earlier,news agency quoted Putin as saying his country does not plan to go to war with anyone but wants to dissuade other countries from engaging in conflict with Moscow.
Despite backing opposing sides in Syria’s war, Turkey and Russia have coordinated closely in the past.
In 2018, they reached a deal that led to Ankara establishing 12 military observation posts in Idlib, home to more than three million people, to prevent a Syrian government offensive.
Last month, Erdogan had repeatedly warned that Turkey would push the Syrian government forces away from its military observation posts in Idlib.
The confrontation between Syria and NATO-member Turkey has prompted worries over a wider conflict and a refugee crisis in Europe similar to 2015, when more than a million people fled to Europe in what became the continent’s worst refugee crisis since World War II.
Turkey already hosts more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees and says it cannot absorb any more.
Refugee numbers have already surged along the European frontier after Erdogan, seeking to pressure the EU over Syria, said last week the country had “opened the doors” to Europe.
“The EU should keep its promises,” Erdogan said, referring to a 2016 deal with Brussels to stop the flow of refugees in exchange for billions of euros in financial aid.
Greece said on Sunday it has blocked nearly 10,000 Syrian refugees at its border with Turkey.
Some 13,000 refugees have amassed at the Turkey-Greece border, including families with young children who spent the night in the cold, the International Organization for Migration said.
Turkish President hopes for Idlib ceasefire deal with President Putin.