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Erdogan, Putin and Rouhani Agree on Measures to Ease Tensions in Idlib

ANKARA – Turkish, Russian and Iranian leaders gathered in Ankara on Monday to try to ease tensions in the Idlib region of north-western Syria, the Turkish news agency, Yeni Safak, reported Tuesday.
The summit of the three countries – all of whom have allies in the ruin of the eight-year-old Syrian war – aimed to find a lasting truce in Syria. Recent attacks by Syrian government forces may aggravate regional unrest and push a new wave of migrants to Turkey.
“We are in a period where we must assume more responsibility for peace in Syria, where we (three countries) must weigh more,” said Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, adding that the three leaders agreed that a political solution was needed to end the crisis in Syria.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against opposition fighters Erdogan, along with the United States, its European and Arab allies, supported various rebel factions.
On Monday, the three leaders said in a joint statement that they were alarmed by the risk of a further deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Idlib, its environs and that they agreed to take “concrete steps” to end violations of previously negotiated agreements between the three countries.
According to the joint statement, discussions focused on Idlib, the last territory occupied by opposition fighters seeking to overthrow Assad.
Erdogan focused on a planned “security zone” with Russia and Iran in northern Syria, which could accommodate up to 3 million refugees currently living in Turkey if it was extended from the Turkish border to Deir al Zor and Raqqa.
Erdoğan warned that Turkey would retaliate against any Syrian government attacks on Turkish posts.
Erdoğan and Putin, who agreed last month to take steps to “normalize” the situation in Idlib after Syrian troops surrounded rebels and a Turkish post in the region, reiterated the need to eliminate militant groups from the region.
“Russia, for its part, plans to support the Syrian army while conducting local operations aimed at eliminating the terrorist threat on its territory,” Putin said.
Iran’s Rouhani said before the talks that diplomacy was the only solution to the crisis and called on the United States to immediately withdraw its troops from north-eastern Syria.
“Diplomacy and no confrontation (military) can ensure peace in Syria,” Rouhani said.
Turkey, which has a border with Syria 911 km (566 miles) along its southern border, has 12 military observation posts in the region, under contract with Moscow and Tehran in 2017. In an interview with Reuters On Friday,
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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