Published: Sat, September 15, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Turkey says Erdogan will meet Putin on Monday for Syria talks

Turkey says Erdogan will meet Putin on Monday for Syria talks

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Monday in another bid to avert a looming Syrian government assault on the rebel-held province of Idlib bordering Turkey that has sparked global concern.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin are expected to meet in the Russian city of Sochi on Monday.

Government bombardment of Idlib has dropped as of Tuesday after days of stepped up bombing campaign against the Syrian opposition's last bastion in the country.

At a meeting in Tehran on Friday with the presidents of Russian Federation and Iran, seen as the last realistic chance to avert all-out conflict in the insurgent-held region, Erdogan failed to win a pledge of ceasefire from Assad's two main backers.

Hulusi Akar, the Turkish defense minister, said a military operation in the densely populated rebel enclave would drag the already problematic region toward disaster. Parties to this conflict have clear and unambiguous obligations to spare the civilian population from the scourge of war, and the presence of designated terrorists or legitimate military targets does nothing to diminish such obligations.

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The timing and location of the proposed meeting were unclear, the sources familiar with the matter said. The escalating trade spat between Washington and Beijing has generated turbulence in global markets.

As the Syrian army and allied forces have been preparing for one last battle against the rebels in Idlib province in northwestern Syria, the ultra-radical rebels seem to have one more chance to surrender.

More than 30,000 people have fled their homes in northwest Syria since the army and allied forces resumed bombardment last week, the United Nations humanitarian affairs office (OCHA) said on Monday.

But Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, in comments on Wednesday evening, indicated that there were continued contacts with Russian Federation and Iran for a diplomatic solution.

"We remain concerned about the situation of 3 million civilians in Idlib where an intensification of fighting has resulted in deaths, injury and displacement, as well as the destruction of civilian infrastructure", said Dujarric.

Turkey's Defence Minister Hulusi Akar and Chief of Military Staff Yasar Guler on Friday visited the provinces of Hatay and Gaziantep bordering Syria where the country has reinforced troops in recent weeks.

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The UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, called a meeting about the crisis with senior officials from Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Britain and the U.S. in Geneva on Friday.

Turkey has said for months that jihadi fighters, who control several major towns in Idlib, should be specifically targeted to avoid the humanitarian consequences of an indiscriminate war.

Russian and Syrian warplanes launched waves of air strikes in the northwest last week, killing dozens and uprooting tens of thousands.

A pro-Assad source in Syria said: "There is patience and repositioning now".

Ankara reached a deal with the European Union two years ago to stem the flow of migrants crossing the Mediterranean into Europe, after the influx caused a political crisis in the bloc.

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