Alwaght- President Vladimir Putin told President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dozens of Turkish troops died in a Syrian airstrike in the Arab country’s Idlib province as no one knew they were there, stressing the crisis in the Syrian province is so dire that a personal conversation between the two leaders is needed.
Russian President expressed his condolences to his Turkish counterpart over the deaths of 34 Turkish troops in last week's airstrike in Idlib, as the two sat to the closely-watched one-in-one in Moscow, RT reported.
“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.
Idlib is home to several anti-government militant outfits receiving Turkish support. The Syrian government troops and their allied forces have since December last year been waging an offensive to liberate towns and villages from the foreign-backed militants in the province.
Turkey has been manning a number of observation posts in Idlib since 2018, when it struck an agreement with Russia in the Black Sea resort of Sochi to cooperate to contain the situation in Syrian territory in the vicinity of the Turkish border. Since the Syrian army offensive began in Idlib late last year, the Turkish military has been building up its presence there.
Ankara has threatened to attack Syrian forces if they do not retreat from Syrian territory where Turkish observation posts are located.
Russia blamed Turkey for allowed its observation posts in Syria's Idlib to virtually merge with terrorist bases.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov blasted Ankara for amassing troops in Idlib and the Western countries for turning a blind eye to the unlawful military build-up.
“No one in the West notices the actions of the Turkish side, which, in violation of international law, has deployed a strike force the size of a mechanized division to Syria’s Idlib,” he said.
Terrorist fortifications have merged with Turkish outposts in Idlib, said the official, adding that “attacks and mass artillery fire on neighboring civilian settlements and the Russian airbase at Khmeimim turned from sporadic to daily.”
“Amid the total cynicism and the West’s fake concerns over the humanitarian situation in the Idlib de-escalation zone, only the Russian center for reconciliation of the opposing sides and the legitimate Syrian government deliver to the liberated areas all the needed assistance for local residents daily,” he said.
“All of Russia's official requests to the UN and Western countries — who delivered humanitarian aid across the Turkish border and all of it went not to refugees, but to terrorists — remained unanswered. All we heard were the lamentations about the need to ‘preserve the Sochi agreements at all costs,’” he added.