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Russia And Turkey Pledge to Continue Joint Anti-Terror Campaign in Idlib

MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan have agreed to take steps to stabilize the situation in Idlib province, located in north-western Syria (the country’s last great militant stronghold), Press Tv reported Thursday.
On Wednesday, Putin and Erdogan held talks in Moscow, the capital of Russia, where the two leaders pledged to intensify their coordination in Syria.
“We are convinced that we must continue to fight together against terrorists wherever they are, including the Idlib area,” the Russian leader said at a joint press conference after their interviews.
“We have agreed how we will coordinate our work in the near future,” Putin said, calling the talks “effective”.
He added that the Russian and Turkish defense leaders had discussed specific measures that the two countries would take in Idlib and that the measures, which he did not explain, would now be applied. “Unfortunately, there are many problems,” said Putin.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that the situation in the province where Moscow and Ankara tried to create a de-escalation zone remained “worrying” and was almost completely controlled by Front Nusra.
Putin said that Turkey was doing a lot to try to remedy the situation, but the two countries should take more measures to “liquidate the actions of terrorist groups”.
Last September, Turkey committed to disarm and eliminate terrorists in Idlib when an agreement was signed between Ankara and Moscow. This agreement has put on hold a Syrian military operation aimed at liberating the region.
Putin added that if the withdrawal of US troops from north-eastern Syria was “a positive step, it would help stabilize the situation in this troubled region.”
“In international law, there is nothing to indicate that they stay there. There is no invitation from a legitimate government, nor a decision by the United Nations Security Council,” he added.
In December, US President Donald Trump announced abruptly that his country had “defeated Daesh Takfiri terrorists in Syria and removed the 2,000 US forces from the country.”
Putin also said that Moscow was planning a trilateral summit “in the near future” during which Russia, Turkey and Iran would discuss the situation in Syria.
He did not give a date for the summit, to be held as part of the Astana peace process launched by the three countries in 2017.
The last meeting between Putin, Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was held in Tehran in September.
Erdogan, for his part, said it was of the utmost importance that the planned US withdrawal from Syria leaves no room for terrorist groups to move freely, adding that Ankara and Moscow would continue to fight terrorist groups in the province of Idlib.
“Cooperation between Russia and Turkey is a touchstone of peace and stability in Syria”, adding that “Together with our Russian friends, we intend to further strengthen our coordination”.
Erdogan said Turkey and Russia had no disagreement over a Turkey-controlled “safe zone” in northern Syria, suggested by Trump.
He added that Turkey had the capacity to create the “safe zone” alone but did not exclude the United States, Russia or other countries if they wished to cooperate.
Erdogan said Ankara was in indirect contact with the Syrian government, without providing details.
US-backed Kurdish militants, who control much of the country’s north, rejected the idea, fearing a Turkish offensive against territory under their control.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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