ISTANBUL, Sept 14, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
will meet with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Monday, officials
said, amid rising international concern over a looming Syrian government
assault on a rebel-held province bordering Turkey.
“President Erdogan will meet with Mr Putin on Monday,” Turkey’s Foreign
Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told a televised press conference on Friday.
The meeting will take place in the Russian resort city of Sochi, a senior
Turkish official told AFP.
Russia-backed forces of the Syrian regime have massed around the Idlib
province in recent weeks, sparking fears of an imminent air and ground attack
to retake the last major opposition bastion.
UN agencies and relief organisations have warned repeatedly that such an
assault could spark one of the worst humanitarian disasters of Syria’s seven-
Turkey has intensified negotiations with Russia to avert a possible attack,
repeatedly calling for a ceasefire.
However last week Erdogan and Putin failed to agree on a ceasefire at a
three-way summit in Tehran which also involved Iranian President Hassan
Russia and Iran are key allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s
Turkey however backs opposition fighters seeking the ouster of the Syrian
leader, and has said a large-scale offensive against the rebels could trigger
a mass exodus towards its border.
Cavusoglu on Friday said Turkey was ready to cooperate with anyone in the
fight against terror groups in Syria, but criticised the Damascus regime for
using the presence of jihadists groups to legitimise a possible operation in
“We are ready to cooperate with everyone in the fight against terror groups
but the killing of civilians, women and children under the guise of fighting
against terror is not correct,” he said. “We cannot bring peace that way.”
Idlib’s most powerful armed faction is the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS)
jihadist group, which Ankara officially designated a “terrorist” group last