'No consensus with Russian delegation on Idlib yet'
LOCAL NEWS

'No consensus with Russian delegation on Idlib yet'

Moscow's representatives are in Ankara to discuss escalation in Idlib, northwest Syria

News Service AA

Turkey's foreign minister said Monday that there had been no consensus with the visiting Russian delegation so far regarding the escalating situation in Idlib, Syria.

Mevlut Cavusoglu’s remarks came during a joint news conference with visiting Slovenian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Miro Cerar in the capital Ankara.

He said that since the talks had failed in the first meeting on Saturday, a second session was in progress.

Cavusoglu said recommendations were presented from both sides.

"There was an exchange of views and suggestions [on Saturday] and thus [the delegations] agreed to meet again. The Russian delegation then went to Jordan. And since they have returned now, a meeting, which began at 12 p.m. [0900GMT] today, is under way," he said.

The foreign minister added that a cease-fire was important so that the displaced people could return to their homeland.

"It is not possible to talk about the political process or the constitutional commission while the regime continues with its aggression, and the civilians keep dying and leaving their native land," he said.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal chaired the Turkish delegation comprising representatives from the National Defense Ministry, General Staff and National Intelligence Organization.

The Russian side -- chaired by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin and special envoy on Syria Alexander Lavrentiev -- comprised representatives from military and intelligence circles.

Steps to boost the political process in the war-torn country were discussed in the three-hour-long meeting that stressed the need to ensure peace in Idlib province.

On Feb. 3, an attack led by Bashar al-Assad regime in Idlib martyred seven Turkish soldiers and one civilian contractor working with the Turkish military, and injured over a dozen people.

In retaliation, Turkey struck over 50 targets and killed 76 Syrian soldiers.

Idlib has been a stronghold of opposition and anti-government armed groups since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

In September 2018, Turkey and Russia agreed to turn the province into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.

But more than 1,800 civilians have been killed in attacks by the regime and Russian forces since then, flouting both the 2018 cease-fire and a new agreement that was reached on Jan. 12 this year.

More than 1.7 million Syrians have moved near the Turkish border due to intense attacks over the past year.

Turkey remains the country with most refugees in the world, hosting more than 3.7 million Syrians since the start of the civil war in the Middle Eastern country.

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