Erdogan to meet Putin on Syria conflict

Istanbul: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin next week to discuss the situation in Idlib, the last rebel-held province in Syria.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu confirmed the Erdogan-Putin meeting during a joint press conference in Islamabad with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Friday.

He said that both leaders will be meeting to with the aim of finding a solution to the Syrian conflict.

“Turkey is open to cooperation with everyone on efforts to fight terror groups in Syria,” Turkey’s state-run news agency Anadolu Agency cited Cavusoglu as saying.

Although the Foreign Minister did not specify where the meeting would take place, several local media outlets reported it would be held in Sochi, the Russian city that hosted a Turkey-Iran-Russia summit in November last year.

Earlier in September, the Presidents of Turkey, Iran and Russia held a tripartite summit in Tehran to discuss the fate of Idlib.

Turkey urged a ceasefire to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe, while Russia and Iran stated that a military offensive to retake Idlib, the last opposition stronghold controlled by the Syrian rebels since 2015, was “inevitable”.

Over the past few years, thousands of rebels have been evacuated from different parts of Syria to Idlib under agreements with the government.

Idlib also has a population of three million civilians, including a large number of people internally displaced by the seven-year conflict.

Russia and Iran are major allies of the Syrian government, while Ankara backs some rebel fighters.