Russia supports holding a “four-way summit” to bring together Turkey, France and Germany to discuss the situation in Syria’s Idlib province, the Kremlin announced yesterday.
“Russian President Vladimir Putin supports the summit’s idea,” Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters, pointing out that Moscow was “still coordinating” the conference’s date with the involved governments.
“The summit will be held after an agreement between the leaders of the involved countries,” he added.
On Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would meet with his Russian, German and French counterparts on 5 March “to discuss the situation in Idlib, where a recent push by government forces has displaced nearly a million people.
“I expressed our determination on Idlib clearly to Putin yesterday,” Erdogan explained, adding: “On 5 March, we will meet with Putin, Emmanuel Macron [French president] and Angela Merkel [German chancellor], and we will talk about these again.”
Idlib has been a stronghold of the opposition and anti-government armed groups since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011. In September 2018, Turkey and Russia agreed to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression are prohibited, but more than 1,800 civilians have been killed in attacks by the regime since then.
As part of the 2018 deal Turkey has 12 observation posts in Idlib to prevent a government offensive but four are now thought to be surrounded by Syrian regime forces.
Turkey has threatened to attack Damascus if it doesn’t retreat by the end of this month.
Some 800,000 people have fled since Syrian regime forces – backed by Russian air power – intensified their assault on Idlib in December.
Rights groups have warned that more than 80,000 people are sleeping in the open air in freezing temperatures after the bombardment of Idlib. According to the International Rescue Committee at least six children have died of the cold.