Turkey is ready to cooperate with Russia on the fight against terrorist groups in the Syrian northwestern province of Idlib, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said ahead of his upcoming talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“If the situation in Idlib continues as is, the results will be heavy. We have to find a solution with Russia and the coalition forces without letting this happen. As you know, the US has a different position, however, we have previously held meetings with Germany and France. We are already in it together with Russia,” Erdogan said on Sunday, as quoted by Daily Sabah, a Turkish newspaper.
Erdogan stated that he had noticed Putin’s positive approach toward the resolution of the conflict during the trilateral summit held between the leaders of Iran, Russia and Turkey in the Iranian capital of Tehran on September 7.
“I hope he [Putin] will continue the positive stance also going forward,” Erdogan stressed, adding that he considered it necessary to eliminate terrorists, but not the moderate opposition, which is also operating in Idlib.
The Turkish leader added that the results of Monday’s talks would be essential for the problem to be resolved politically.
“The outcome of our meeting with Mr. Putin will be important. I also have visits to the United Nations General Assembly and Germany toward the end of the month. It is my wish that, with positive decisions made at these meetings, we will carry out the situation [in Idlib] to a new level,” Erdogan noted.
The president went on to say that although the situation in Idlib had recently stabilized, it was still far from being satisfactory, and this is why Turkey was going to reinforce its troops there.
“It is true we have been strengthening our soldiers’ (presence) there. We cannot afford to have a weakness there, we will continue to strengthen them. If we do not enforce our monitoring posts, some others can take initiatives and as results of their actions civilians may be harmed,” he said, adding that the 12 observation points that Turkey had in Idlib were intended to protect “innocent civilians.”
Talks are set to be held in the Russian resort city of Sochi later on Monday. They will focus on the situation in the Idlib de-escalation zone, which is one of the remaining strongholds of insurgency in the country.
While the Syrian government has eliminated terrorists in vast territories of the country, Idlib is still occupied by militants. Since late August, tensions have escalated in the region, with Russia claiming that terrorists were preparing a false-flag chemical attack there, set to provoke a Western intervention in the country.
The US, according to the Wall Street Journal, contends that Damascus plans to carry out an attack against civilians.
Turkey, along with Russia and Iran, is a guarantor of the ceasefire regime in Syria, and the administrations of the three countries are constantly seeking solutions to the Syrian problem, with the Tehran summit being just the most recent example.
Sources: Sputnik, Daily Sabah