Efforts against terror groups will continue in Syria's Idlib - Erdogan

The two leaders met to discuss the situation in Syria as the nearly eight-year conflict winds down

The two leaders met to discuss the situation in Syria as the nearly eight-year conflict winds down

Following a day's talks in Moscow on the situation in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan underlined that cooperation between their two countries was essential to achieving a lasting peace in Syria.

Turkey considers the Kurdish forces, the People's Protection Units (YPG), a branch of the PKK.

The two leaders are on opposite sides of the Syria conflict: Russian Federation provides critical support to the Syrian government, while Turkey has backed rebel groups fighting President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

At the same time, Putin appears willing to accommodate Turkish security interests in Syria, seeing strong ties with Turkey as an essential counterbalance to the USA clout in the region.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday efforts against terrorist organisations in Syria's Idlib will continue. Still, Trump's decision to pull US troops out of the country has created a new imperative for cooperation.

"We could establish a safe zone on our own but we will not exclude the U.S., Russian Federation or others if they would like to cooperate", Cavusoglu said.

Commenting on the Syrian political process, Putin said at the joint news conference that Russian Federation and Turkey have a position to achieve a solution to the Syrian crisis via political and diplomatic means.

The establishment of a Turkish-controlled safe zone, which would run some 32 kilometers (22 miles) in Syria's northeast, could potentially serve as a resettlement area for Syrians who fled to Turkey.

Russian Federation provides critical support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government, while Turkey has backed opposition fighters who are battling against Syrian government forces.

"Such dialogue will help consolidation of the Syrian society and the national reconciliation", Putin said.

"We respect the interests of our Turkish friends in ensuring security", Putin said.

Putin said Wednesday that Russian Federation supports "establishing dialogue between Damascus officials and representatives of the Kurds".

Erdogan and Putin had seven one-on-one meetings in 2018 and 18 phone calls to discuss bilateral relations and regional developments, especially Syria.

He said Turkey had the right to enter Syrian territory when it was threatened under a 1998 agreement with Damascus after Syria expelled the Kurdish militant leader Abdullah Ocalan, now jailed in Turkey.

"Our joint fight against terrorist organisations in Syria's Idlib will continue", Erdogan said in a joint news conference with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

Last September, Putin and Erdogan struck a de-escalation deal on Idlib that averted the Syrian army offensive that sparked fears of a humanitarian catastrophe.

Putin added he had agreed to host another Russian-Turkish-Iranian summit soon.

Trump's floating the idea has put the issue back on Ankara's agenda but Erdogan said on Friday that his government's patience was not endless.

On Monday, UK's Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said, in front of parliament, "I think our whole country owes a great debt of gratitude to SDF and many of those Kurdish forces that are part of the SDF".

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