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Turkey says Russia must restrain Syrian forces in Idlib

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. (AFP)

Turkey urged Russia on Tuesday to rein in Syrian government forces in the northwestern province of Idlib, a day after eight Turkish personnel were killed in an attack Ankara blamed on Russian-backed Syrian troops.


“I told my counterpart Sergei Lavrov that the regime was carrying out provocative attacks on our observations posts around Idlib, that we will retaliate if they continue this, and that they need to stop the regime as soon as possible,”  Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters. 

“We also don’t accept the excuse of ‘we cannot fully control the regime’ here,” he said, adding that agreements with Russia regarding Idlib must be revived.


The two countries back opposing sides in the war, with Russia supporting President Bashar al-Assad and Turkey backing rebels who once aimed to topple him. 

They have worked together to reduce fighting in Idlib, but a major Syrian government offensive in the region has rattled Ankara, which fears millions of displaced people could be driven towards Turkey, which already hosts 3.6 million refugees. 

While Turkey has urged Russia to restrain Syrian forces from launching further attacks, Moscow says it is concerned about attacks by militants who control Idlib, the last remaining major rebel strongold after nearly nine years of war. 

On Monday, Turkey bombarded dozens of targets around Idlib in response to the deadly attacks on its troops.