Turkish, Russian delegations discuss Idlib, Syria

Turkey hosted a Russian delegation in the capital Ankara on Saturday to discuss the escalating situation in Idlib, northwestern Syria.

According to diplomatic sources, the Turkish and Russia delegations held a three-hour meeting which stressed the need to ensure peace on the ground and discussed steps to boost political process.

The parties decided to resume the talks in the upcoming weeks.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal chaired the Turkish delegation, with representatives from Defense Ministry, General Staff and National Intelligence Organization.

The Russian delegation — chaired by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin and special envoy on Syria Alexander Lavrentiev — comprised of representatives from military and intelligence.

On Monday, an Assad regime attack in Idlib martyred seven Turkish soldiers and one civilian contractor working with the Turkish military, and injured over a dozen people.

In retaliation, Turkey struck over 50 targets and killed 76 Syrian soldiers.

Idlib has been a stronghold of opposition and anti-government armed groups since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

In September 2018, Turkey and Russia agreed to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.

But more than 1,800 civilians there have been killed in attacks by regime and Russian forces since then, flouting both the 2018 cease-fire and a new one that started on Jan. 12

More than 1.7 million Syrians have moved near the Turkish border due to intense attacks over the past year.

Turkey remains the country with most refugees in the world, hosting more than 3.7 million Syrians since the start of the Syrian civil war.

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