Erdogan invites Putin and Rouhani to Istanbul to discuss Syrian issue

Erdogan invites Putin and Rouhani to Istanbul to discuss Syrian issue

Yesterday Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed possible second Russia-Turkey-Iran summit in Istanbul by phone. Earlier, Iranian President Hasan Rouhani also announced possibility of such meeting in the very near future. The first trilateral summit on Syria was held in Sochi on November 22, 2017. As Middle East Eye writes in an article "Turkey to host Syria summit with Russia and Iran", the seven-year conflict enters a new bloody phase, with Turkey continuing its offensive in Afrin against Kurdish YPG forces and as the US and Israel launching strikes against Syrian government forces and their allies, while Russia and its Syrian government allies have intensified air strikes against opposition-held areas.

During their conversation Turkish leader expressed his condolences to Russian President over death of the Russian pilot Roman Filipov, who piloted Su-25 plane, as a result of attack by militants in the de-escalation zone of Idlib on February 3. They decided to strengthen coordination of actions between armed forces and special services to combat terrorist groups that violate ceasefire regime. They also discussed importance of adherence to Astana agreements on creation of the de-escalation zones in Syria. Putin and Erdogan reaffirmed their commitment to political and diplomatic settlement, based on UN Security Council Resolution 2254.

A convoy of Turkish troops on Monday entered Idlib - which is largely controlled by rebel forces - to set up an "observation point" in line with peace talks in the Kazakh capital Astana. 

The summit, if it takes place, will be the latest example of the increasingly intense contact between Ankara and Moscow over Syria.

Russia, along with Iran, is the key backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Moscow's military intervention inside Syria is widely seen as tipping the balance in the conflict.  Turkey, however, has backed the rebels seeking Assad's removal in a seven-year conflict that has left more than 340,000 dead. But Russia and Turkey have been working together since a 2016 reconciliation deal ended a crisis caused by the shooting down of a Russian war plane over Syria. 

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