image image

Syrian conflict

Russia and Turkey agree to accelerate efforts to stabilise Syria

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 February, 2018, 5:07am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 February, 2018, 7:25am

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin have agreed to “accelerate” efforts to establish Turkish observation posts in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province.

The officials said the agreement was reached during a telephone call between the two leaders on Wednesday.

The two spoke a day after a Turkish military convoy was targeted by a car bomb in Idlib, where Turkey is enforcing a “de-escalation zone” as part of an agreement reached between Turkey, Russia and Iran. One civilian was killed in the attack.

During their conversation, the two leaders also agreed that a Syria peace conference held on Monday in the Russian city of Sochi – where an agreement to draft a new constitution for Syria was announced – was an “important achievement,” according to the officials.

The officials provided the information on condition of anonymity in line with Turkish government rules.

Also on Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron warned Turkey to respect Syria’s sovereignty and not to invade a northern Syrian enclave where Ankara is battling Syrian Kurdish fighters whom it considers to be terrorists.

Macron said in an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro that Turkey must coordinate with allies, and that its operation must be limited to fighting terror.

Turkey attacks: jets bomb Kurds while ground forces enter Syria in new offensive

Macron says he will have a discussion with Erdogan in the coming days to tell him that the military offensive against Afrin should involve talks “between Europeans, and more widely between allies, because it changes the nature of this Turkish incursion.

Turkey launched a military offensive against Afrin on January. 20 to drive out the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, which is says are an extension of the outlawed Kurdish rebels inside Turkey.

Macron says that “if it turned out that this operation had to take another turn than an action to fight against a potential terror threat at the Turkish border, and that it was an invasion operation, at that moment, this operation would pose a real problem for us.”

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said, however, that the French president has a “flawed understanding” of Turkey’s cross-border offensive in northwestern Syria.

Yildirim says that “the whole world knows and should know that Turkey does not operate with the mentality of an invader.” The Turkish premier spoke on Wednesday during a joint news conference with visiting Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Why is Turkey’s ex-president feuding with Erdogan?

Turkey launched the military offensive against Afrin on January20 to drive out the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, a militia it says is an extension of the outlawed Kurdish rebels fighting inside Turkey.

Turkish media reports said two more rockets fired from Syria have struck a Turkish border town, wounding one person.

State-run Anadolu Agency said the rockets, fired from the Syrian Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin, hit a road and an empty house in the town of Reyhanli on Wednesday. One person was hurt in the attack, the private Dogan news agency reported.

Earlier, a teenage girl was killed when a rocket hit her home in Reyhanli, bringing to four the death toll in multiple rockets attacks on Reyhanli and the border town of Kilis since Turkey launched its cross-border operation to drive out a Syrian Kurdish militia from Afrin.

It was the latest in a string of rocket attacks on Reyhanli and the border town of Kilis since January 20, when Turkey’s military launched a cross-border operation to drive out the Syrian Kurdish militia from Afrin.