The Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has in a phone call with Kremlin boss Wladimir Putin talked about the crisis in Syrian Idlib. Russia is the protective power of the Syrian government. The Turkish state news agency Anadolu reported on Friday evening that Erdogan has again warned that the Syrian government should hold back. The crisis could only be resolved if the Sochi agreement were fully implemented.
The situation in Idlib had recently escalated. According to the UN, around 900,000 Syrians have fled from the approaching government troops and violence since the beginning of December – also towards the Turkish border. This had caused concerns in Turkey, which already has millions of Syrian refugees.
Erdogan’s reference to the Sochi Agreement refers to an agreement between Turkey and Russia. This should create a de-escalation zone in Idlib, among others. Turkey, which supports Islamist rebels in the Syrian civil war, then set up observation posts there. Nevertheless, the Syrian military launched an offensive on Idlib. Turkish soldiers were also killed in several armed conflicts between the Turkish and Syrian military.
UN Secretary General Guterres fears that the humanitarian situation will escalate further
Turkey is threatening a military offensive against Syrian troops in late February if they do not withdraw.
The Kremlin emphasized that it wanted to continue talking intensively with Turkey about “reducing tensions” and a ceasefire. The conversation was initiated on the initiative of Turkey, it said in a message. Putin had previously discussed the situation with the National Security Council.
UN Secretary General António Guterres has warned that the situation in Idlib will worsen. “The fighting is now advancing to areas with the highest concentration of people, including displaced people, and threatens to cut humanitarian lifelines,” Guterres said in New York. The risk of an “uncontrollable escalation” with unpredictable consequences is increasing due to the advancement of the Syrian army supported by Russia. He called for an immediate ceasefire.
Possible arbitration summit in March
According to Erdogan, the two Putin are said to have proposed a four-man summit in Istanbul on March 5. In a telephone call with Merkel and Macron, Erdogan called on Friday for “concrete measures” from Germany and France to prevent a “humanitarian catastrophe” in northwest Syria, as his office in Ankara said.
All three interlocutors – Merkel, Macron and Erdogan – had expressed “their shared concern about the catastrophic humanitarian situation of the civilian population and the risk of further escalation,” said a government spokesman in Berlin. Accordingly, the interlocutors advocated a “political solution” to the crisis. “Against this background, they think it would make sense to meet the Russian President Vladimir Putin in a timely manner,” the spokesman continued.