On January 23, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the situation in Syria during a meeting in the Russian capital of Moscow.
In a press briefing following the meeting, Putin announced that Moscow and Ankara had agreed to work on additional measures to implement the deconfliction agreement on the northern Syrian governorate of Idlib.
The agreement, which includes the establishment of a demilitarized zone around Idlib, was reached last September during a similar presidential summit. However, it had not been implemented properly and led to the growth in the influence of radical groups in the area.
“Maintaining the ceasefire mechanism should not be at the expense of fighting terrorists that must continue … We see that our Turkish partners are making great efforts to eliminate the terrorist threat there and it is necessary to work together to remove tension in that region,” the RT TV quoted Putin as saying.
The Russian President also described the decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria as a “a positive step,” saying it will help stabilize the situation in the war-torn country.
“If such steps will indeed be taken, it will be a positive change. It will help stabilize the situation in this troubled region of the Syrian state, which is currently under control of Kurdish forces”, Putin said, according to Sputnik.
Putin went on to reaffirm Moscow’s support of the negotiations between the Damascus government and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which control northeastern Syria.
“Such dialogue will help consolidation of the Syrian society and the national reconciliation,” Putin said. “It will be beneficial not only to Syria but its neighbors,” the Russian President added.
From his side, Erdogan warned that the withdraw of U.S. troops can be abused by terror groups. He also revealed that Washington had given positive signals regarding the plan to establish a safe zone in northeastern Syria and noted that “there is no problem between us [Turkey] and Russia” on this.
“It is of critical importance that a power vacuum that can be abused by terror groups does not emerge during the process of the U.S. withdrawal,” Erdogan said.
Regarding Idlib, the Turkish President stressed that Ankara and Moscow will continue their fight against terrorist groups in the governorate.
“I have stated that our only aim is our duty to clear [the region] of terror organizations such as the PYD [Democratic Union Party] and the YPG [People’s Protection units], and especially of Daesh [ISIS],” Erdogan added.
This meeting will be followed by a trilateral summit between Moscow, Ankara and Tehran. The exact date of this summit, which will also be focused on Syria, is yet to be revealed.