Portuguese / Spanish / English

Turkey, Russia can tackle Syria escalation 'without anger'

Turkish President and Leader of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during the extended meeting with provincial heads at the AK Party headquarters in Ankara, Turkey on 31 January, 2020 [Metin Aktaş/Anadolu Agency]
Turkish President and Leader of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, Turkey on 31 January, 2020 [Metin Aktaş/Anadolu Agency]

President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday Turkey and Russia should resolve differences over the conflict in Syria's Idlib without anger, after a deadly flare-up in violence challenged the fragile cooperation between Moscow and Ankara.

The two countries support opposing sides in Syria's nearly nine-year war, as well as in Libya's escalating conflict, but have worked together to contain some of the bloodsheds and have forged close defence ties in recent years.

An attack by Russian-backed Syrian government forces that killed eight Turkish military personnel on Monday posed the biggest challenge to Russian-Turkish ties since their 2018 deal to stem fighting in Syria's northwest Idlib region.

Erdogan told Russian forces on Monday there to "stand aside" while Turkey struck dozens of targets in retaliation. Moscow and Ankara then argued about whether Turkey had told Russia it was sending waves of reinforcements into Idlib.

READ: We are addressing the Assad regime not you in Syria, says Erdogan to Russia

"There is no need for us to be engaged in a conflict or a serious contradiction with Russia at this stage," he was quoted as telling reporters on a flight from Ukraine.

"We will, of course, sit down and discuss everything. Not with anger, though. Because those who sit down with anger, get up with losses," Erdogan added.

Russia supports President Bashar al-Assad in the war in Syria while Turkey backs rebels who once aimed to topple him.

Turkey has been one of the main country which has been welcoming Syrian refugees - Cartoon [MiddleEastMonitor]

Turkey has been one of the main countries which have been welcoming Syrian refugees –
Cartoon [MiddleEastMonitor]

Analysts said the relationship should survive the testy spell even while risks remained on the ground in Syria. Turkey, which already hosts 3.6 million refugees, fears Russian airstrikes and a recent northward surge by Syrian troops threaten to send millions more refugees towards its border.

A Turkish security official said clashes between Turkish and Syrian forces continued intermittently on Tuesday around Saraqeb, a town 15 km (9 miles) east of Idlib city.

"Now we see more clearly the limits of the Turkey-Russia cooperation in Syria…and the question is have we reached a different level of escalation" given the attacks on Turkish troops, said Sinan Ulgen, a former Turkish diplomat who chairs the Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies.

Categories
Europe & RussiaMiddle EastNewsRussiaSyriaTurkey
Show Comments
Writing Palestine - Celebrating the tenth year of the Palestine Book Awards - Buy your copy of the book now
Show Comments