No sign of agreement in Idlib after Putin-Erdoğan phone call

The path to a solution in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib is through the full implementation of the 2018 Sochi accord, a Directorate of Communications statement quoted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as saying in a phone call with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Friday, while a Kremlin statement focused on extremist groups’ activity in the province.

For a solution in Idlib, the Syrian regime must be reined in and the humanitarian crisis in the rebel-held province must be stopped, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said according to the statement.

Putin has “expressed serious concern over ongoing aggressive actions of extremists groups” in Idlib, a statement by Kremlin said. 

Before launching its Idlib offensive in April last year, the Syrian government had said Turkey failed to uphold its end of the Sochi agreement to remove jihadist groups from the province.

“The two leaders expressed commitment to all agreements that have been made,” the Directorate of Communications statement said.

In the call, the two presidents “stressed the necessity of unconditional commitment to Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the Kremlin statement said.

Turkish and Russian officials have stepped up diplomatic efforts in the past two weeks to try to ease escalating tensions in Idlib, where the two countries agreed in 2018 to establish a demilitarised zone.

“I can say that there is a war,” Erdoğan told reporters before the call. “This phone call will determine the course of events.”

Putin discussed the situation in Idlib in detail with permanent members of Russia’s Security Council before the call, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov told reporters earlier.

In the call, the presidents agreed to increase communication between Turkish and Russian institutions and troops to reduce tensions, establish a ceasefire and neutralise the threat of terrorism, Russia expert Kerim Has said in a tweet.

“My opinion is that nothing concrete on Idlib came out of the Erdoğan-Putin call,” Has added. “It seems that Ankara will have to accept the reality in the field, or continue with the increasingly risky adventure.”

The phone call demand had come from Turkey, Has relayed the Kremlin statement as saying.

A Russian delegation will visit Turkey next week to continue with negotiations, news network HaberTürk announced.