Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said today that there was not yet full agreement on holding a proposed 5 March summit with Russia, France and Germany on the conflict in Syria’s Idlib, but he may meet Russia’s Vladimir Putin on that date, Turkish TV Station NTV reported.
“There is no full agreement” between French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, he told reporters in a televised press conference before travelling to Azerbaijan from Ankara.
The Turkish leader on Tuesday said he might instead hold face-to-face talks with Putin on 5 March, either in Istanbul or in Ankara.
The Russian government said it was not discussing a four-way summit on Syria with France, Germany and Turkey to end fighting in the Syrian province of Idlib. Instead, the Kremlin is working on organising a meeting with Turkey and Iran, Reuters reported, citing spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
A Turkish soldier was killed in Syria’s Idlib region in a bomb attack by Russian-backed government forces on Saturday, Turkey’s sixteenth military death during a month in which talks between Ankara and Moscow have stalled, reported Reuters.
Syrian government forces are pushing to retake the last large opposition-held region in Syria after nine years of war and nearly a million Syrians, mostly women and children, displaced by the fighting since early December.
Syrian state media, citing a military source, said any breach of Syria’s airspace “will be dealt with as an enemy military target”. Damascus and Ankara, which opposes regime President Bashar Al-Assad, have agreed Russia could control Idlib airspace.
The United Nations has warned fighting in Idlib could “end in a bloodbath” and called for a ceasefire. The latest Syrian offensive has prompted the biggest civilian exodus in a civil war that has killed an estimated 400,000 Syrians, displaced millions more and left much of the country in ruins.