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Erdogan, Putin, Rouhani to hold talks as Russia and Turkey consider moves in Idlib

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Erdogan, Putin, Rouhani to hold talks as Russia and Turkey consider moves in Idlib

putin erdogan idlib
putin erdogan idlib
Photo: Anadolu Agency

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet in Sochi today to discuss Syria.

Establishing a safe zone around the northern city of Idlib—the last major stronghold of anti-Assad forces—will top today’s agenda. While Turkey and Russia agreed to establish a demilitarized zone around Idlib last September, Al Qaeda affiliate Tahrir al-Sham seized control of most of the city last month, which lies approximately 500 km from the Turkish border. Turkey’s and Russia’s September agreement also advocated for the re-opening of Idlib’s M4 and M5 highways, which connects major Syrian cities, including Aleppo and Damascus, to Turkey and Jordan.

Moscow did vaguely suggest launching a military operation with Turkey to oust terror groups from Idlib. While it has not yet shown enthusiasm for this, Ankara has agreed to take “decisive measures” to stabilise the area.

Expect Moscow, Ankara and Tehran to explore specifics for regaining control of Idlib, but a military offensive is unlikely at this stage. Critical to the transfer of supplies, control of the M4 and M5 would give the powers significant leverage for future Syria talks.

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