Ankara, Feb 11 (IANS) Turkey has urged Russia to fulfil its responsibilities in the Astana process that aimed at a cease-fire in Idlib province of Syria, the Turkish presidential spokesperson said.
A visiting Russian delegation held the first round of talks with Turkish government on Saturday and continued discussions over the recent escalation of tensions in Idlib on Monday, Xinhua reported.
Following meetings at the Turkish Foreign Ministry, the Russian delegation also met with Turkey’s presidential aide and spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin.
The latest situation in Idlib has been discussed, said a written statement released by Kalin’s office.
The military attack carried out by the Syrian government forces at Turkish observation points was strongly condemned, said the statement, adding that the Turkish military would respond within the framework of the right of self-defence against the attack.
An attack by the Syrian government forces killed five Turkish soldiers and injured five others in Idlib on Monday while talks between Turkish and Russian delegations were ongoing. A previous Syrian government attack on Turkish soldiers killed eight personnel of the army in Idlib last week.
Turkey has stressed to Russia that the attack against the Turkish soldiers was unacceptable, and that the Turkish army has responded in the hardest manner and will continue to retaliate, said the statement.
Turkey emphasised the need to stop these attacks which were contrary to the spirit of the Astana deal and violated the Sochi consensus, and Russia, one of the guarantors of the agreement, should fulfil its responsibility, it added.
Ankara expressed its determination to respond and take every kind of measures against attacks which aim at harming the political process, said the statement.
Over the past two months, the Syrian army launched a wide-scale offensive in the southern and eastern countryside of Idlib as well as in the southern countryside of Aleppo Province in a bid to open the Damascus-Aleppo strategic highway that connects the country’s south with its north.
In the process, the army besieged some of the Turkish observation points that were set up in rebel-held areas to observe a short-lived de-escalation zone deal agreed upon between Russia and Turkey.
The Syrian shelling targeted Taftanaz Air Base in Idlib countryside as Turkey was amassing forces and started shelling Syrian forces as part of Ankara’s plan to launch a wide-scale offensive to hinder the progress of the Syrian army in Idlib.