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Turkey renews demand for Syrian regime to withdraw to Sochi agreement borders

February 27, 2020 at 1:39 am

President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) hold joint press conference after their meeting at Presidential Residence in Sochi, Russia on 22 October, 2019 [Mustafa Kamacı/Anadolu Agency]

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu reiterated his country’s demand for the withdrawal of the Syrian regime forces in the Idlib area, beyond the borders agreed upon under the Sochi Agreement between Ankara and Moscow.

Cavusoglu added in a press statement, on Wednesday, in the capital Ankara, that the next Russian delegation to his country, headed by a deputy foreign minister, includes military and intelligence personnel.

He also tackled holding previous meetings between the Turkish and Russian delegations in Ankara and Moscow, noting that the upcoming meeting in Ankara came on the proposal of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Turkish minister indicated that Ankara’s demands are clear regarding the situation in Idlib, as the Syrian regime is required to stop its attacks on the region and withdraw beyond the borders agreed upon under the Sochi Agreement.

He stressed the need for implementing a ceasefire in Idlib, to ensure the return of displaced civilians, who are enduring the harsh winter, to their homes.

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In response to a question about the quartet summit (between Turkey, Russia, Germany and France) expected to be held on 5 March, Cavusoglu said that there is a plan to hold the summit mentioned above, and another tripartite summit hosted by Tehran, within the framework of the Astana meetings.

The Turkish minister referred to the need to reduce escalation on the ground, to ensure the success of these meetings.

In May 2017, Turkey, Russia, and Iran announced that they had reached an agreement to “establish a de-escalation zone” in Idlib within the framework of the Astana meetings on the Syrian file.

Despite subsequent understandings made to implement the cease-fire in Idlib, the last of which was last January, the regime forces and their affiliates continue to launch attacks on the region.

The offensive has resulted in the death of more than 1,800 civilians, and the displacement of more than 1,300,000 others to relatively calm areas or near the Turkish border, since 17 September 2018.