Turkey's Erdogan asks Russia's Putin to step aside in Syria

Turkey's Erdogan asks Russia's Putin to step aside in Syria

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that he had asked President Vladimir Putin for Russia to step aside in Syria and leave Turkey to deal with Syrian government forces alone, after 34 Turkish soldiers were killed this week.

Government forces, backed by Russian air power, have waged a major assault to capture the northwest province of Idlib, the last remaining territory held by rebels backed by Turkey.

Speaking in Istanbul, Erdogan said he had told Putin in a phone call to stand aside and let Turkey “to do what is necessary” with the Syrian government alone.

He said Turkey does not intend to leave Syria right now.

“We did not go there because we were invited by (Syrian President Bashar al-Assad). We went there because we were invited by the people of Syria. We don’t intend to leave before the people of Syria, ‘okay, this is done,” Erdogan added.

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