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5 Mar, 2020 11:15

Acute crisis in Syria's Idlib demanded our direct talks, Putin says as he meets Erdogan in Moscow

Acute crisis in Syria's Idlib demanded our direct talks, Putin says as he meets Erdogan in Moscow

Dozens of Turkish troops died in a Syrian airstrike as no one knew they were there, Putin told Erdogan, stressing the crisis in the Syrian province is so dire that a personal conversation between the two leaders is needed.

Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences to Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the deaths of 34 Turkish troops in last week's airstrike in Idlib, as the two sat to the closely-watched one-to-one in Moscow.

“Unfortunately, as I already told you in a telephone conversation, no one, including the Syrian troops, knew about their location,” the Russian President reiterated.

Attributed to the Syrian military, the airstrike prompted Turkey to deploy thousands of troops, tanks and drones into Idlib, the last remaining Syrian province still in the hands of anti-government militants.

The Turkish army also declared any Syrian military asset a legitimate target. As Putin acknowledged during the meeting, the situation in Idlib reached its boiling point.

Now the situation in the well-known zone in Idlib has become so grave that it certainly requires our personal conversation.

“We need to talk through the whole current situation so it won’t repeat itself and won’t harm our relations,” the President stressed. Russia, he pointed out, “treasures” its ties with Turkey.

Erdogan in turn hailed the importance of the meeting as the whole world “has eyes on Moscow.” He believes that “the steps that will be taken today and our decisions will undoubtedly ease the situation.”

Also on rt.com Putin-Erdogan summit: Prelude to Russo-Turkish clash or last best hope for Syrian peace?

While the much-awaited meeting started seamlessly, the developments on the ground showed some cracks in Turkey-Russia ties. As Ankara demanded that Russia press President Bashar Assad into halting hostilities in Idlib, Moscow accused Turkey of failing to act on its promise to clear the ‘de-escalation zone’ of jihadist groups.

Nevertheless, both Moscow and Ankara set their hopes high for the meeting in Moscow.

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