Russian Defence Ministry sends Turkey letter over Syria

Agreements on Syria between Turkey, Iran and Russia made last year at Sochi and Astana are at stake as tensions are rising due to distrust between these newly minted allies.

Turkey first gave a diplomatic note to Russia and Iran over alleged violations of the ceasefire near the northwestern Syrian city of Idlib where Ankara has forces stationed, and now the Russian Defence Ministry has sent Turkey’s Chief of Staff Hulusi Akar and Intelligence chief Hakan Fidan a letter over drone strikes on the Russian Khmeimim base in western Syria carried out by Syrian opposition groups, secular newspaper Hürriyet said.

Today’s issue of Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star) newspaper, which is known to be close to the Russian Defence Ministry, said the letter had been sent to Turkey on Jan. 6, Hürriyet said.

“Russian military experts took over control of three of the 13 drones attacking the Russian base and landed them,” the article said. “Inspection of the drones revealed them to have been flown from the town of Muazzara in Idlib region. Turkey needed to ensure the security of that place in line with the agreement on safe regions.”

Despite Idlib region being under Turkey’s supervision according to the Astana agreement, Ankara has accused Russia and Iran of supporting the Syrian government in military operations in the region, Hürriyet said.

Russia, Turkey and Iran agreed to set up de-escalation zones in the north of Syria at Astana, Kazakhstan in September 2017. That laid the groundwork for more comprehensive talks between the three powers at Sochi in Russia in November 2017. Another round of Sochi talks is expected this month.