Turkey’s Erdoğan, Russia’s Putin to Meet to Ease Idlib Tensions
AhvalNews: Turkey’s communications director said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin agreed in a phone call on Friday to meet soon to discuss violence in Syria’s northwest province of Idlib, a day after 34 Turkish soldiers were killed in a Russian-backed Syrian government offensive.
With Turkish forces under heavy fire in Idlib, where they are deployed to stave off the Syrian government’s advance on the last rebel-held province, the close cooperation that brought Russia and Turkey together in the conflict has been reversed, bringing the two sides on the brink of war.
Russia’s Interfax news agency said the pair had discussed a possible top-level meeting in the near future, but did not say they had agreed to meet. It said they reaffirmed their shared commitment to fighting international terrorism.
High among Turkey’s concerns in the province is the presence of an estimated 3 million civilians, many of whom are expected to attempt to cross the border if the Syrian government continues its advance. News reports on Thursday night said Turkey had opened its border with Syria and would also allow Syrians to cross its territory towards Europe, a move interpreted by many as a rebuke to the European Union for its lack of support in Idlib.
15:45 – Turkish lira pares losses after Putin-Erdoğan phone call
The Turkish lira pared losses in Friday afternoon trading after Putin and Erdoğan held a phone call in an attempt to diffuse tensions in Syria and prevent direct military conflict.
The lira was down less than 0.1 percent at 6.21 per dollar as of 3:42 p.m. local time in Istanbul. It had slid beyond 6.25 per dollar earlier in the day, nearing the lowest level since the weeks following a currency crisis in August 2018.
14:45 – Putin, Erdoğan agree to meet ‘soon’
The Turkish and Russian presidents agreed during a phone conversation on Friday to hold a face-to-face meeting in the near future, Erdoğan’s communications director Fahrettin Altun said.
Erdoğan and Putin also reaffirmed their commitment to fighting international terrorism and agreed on the need to de-escalate the situation in Idlib during the phone call, according to Russian media reports.
14:40 – NATO expresses solidarity with Turkey
NATO issued a statement expressing its solidarity with Turkey and calling for an immediate ceasefire in Syria after Friday’s emergency consultation on the attack on Turkish troops the previous night.
“Turkey is the NATO Ally most affected by the terrible conflict in Syria, which has suffered the most terrorist attacks, and which hosts millions of refugees,” the statement read.
“This dangerous situation must be deescalated to avoid further worsening of the horrendous humanitarian situation in the region, and to allow urgent humanitarian access for those trapped in Idlib. We urge an immediate return to the 2018 ceasefire,” it said.
Turkey’s allies will continue to support it with a range of measures including augmenting its air defences, it said.
14:00 – Russian frigates pass Istanbul on way to Mediterranean
Russia is sending two frigates equipped with cruise missiles to the eastern Mediterranean in response to the escalating conflict in Idlib, the Moscow Times reported citing Russian news agency Interfax.
Russia’s Black Sea Fleet dispatched the Admiral Makarov and Admiral Grigorovich frigates to the Mediterranean, its spokesman Alexei Rulev said. The ships were spotted crossing the Bosporus strait on Friday morning.