TUE 26 - 5 - 2020
Date: Jan 24, 2019
Source: The Daily Star
Russia and Turkey to act to stabilize Idlib province: Putin
MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Wednesday after which the Russian leader said the two men had discussed how they planned to stabilize the situation in Syria’s Idlib province. The Russian Foreign Ministry said earlier Wednesday that the situation in the region, where Moscow and Ankara have tried to create a de-escalation zone, was rapidly deteriorating and that it was almost under the full control of Nusra militants.

Putin said the Russian and Turkish defense ministers had already held talks on specific action the two countries would take in Idlib and the measures, which he didn’t describe, would now be implemented.

“Unfortunately there are many problems there and we see them,” Putin said, standing beside Erdogan.

He said Turkey was doing a lot to try to remedy the situation, but that more action by both Ankara and Moscow was required to “liquidate the actions of terrorist groups.”

Erdogan said that Ankara and Moscow don’t have any disagreements about a planned safe zone in northern Syria, adding that it was of crucial importance that a planned U.S. withdrawal does not leave room for terrorist groups to roam freely.

Ankara strongly supports the creation of a 32-kilometer safe zone in northeastern Syria to ensure that Syrian Kurdish militia - The People’s Protection Units (YPG) - is kept away from the Turkish border.

Erdogan said last week he had discussed a safe zone with U.S. President Donald Trump.

The Turkish and Russian leaders share strong opposition to the U.S. military presence in Syria, seeing it as an obstacle to their clout in the country. Putin said he had agreed to host a summit soon where Russia, Turkey and Iran would discuss the situation in Syria.

He did not name a date for the summit, but said he and Erdogan had agreed on its provisional timing.

The Russian leader also complained about the difficulty of forming a U.N.-sponsored constitutional committee for Syria, saying that France, Germany and Britain had blocked the proposed make-up of the committee in December, a move he said had come as a surprise for Moscow.

Separately, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Israel should stop carrying out what Moscow called arbitrary airstrikes on Syria, days after the Israeli air force targeted what Israel said were Iranian forces there.

Israel has repeatedly attacked what it describes as Iranian targets in Syria and those of allied armed groups, including Hezbollah.

“We should never allow Syria, which has suffered years of armed conflict, to be turned into an arena where geopolitical scores are settled,” Russian news agency TASS cited her as saying.

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