Russia, Turkey to enhance military coordination in Syria

Moscow: Russian and Turkish leaders agreed to further coordinate their troops and special services in Syria to combat terrorist groups who are violating the Syrian ceasefire, the Kremlin said on Thursday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the remarks during a telephone conversation, according to a Kremlin statement, Xinhua reported.

“They reaffirmed mutual commitment to the political and diplomatic resolution of the crisis based on UN Security Council Resolution 2254, in line with the decisions of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress, which was held on January 30, 2018 in Sochi,” the Kremlin said.

The Syrian peace talks concluded last week in the western Russian city of Sochi. The main principles of a political settlement were reached and a committee was formed to promote constitutional reform in the war-torn country.

Putin and Erdogan also underscored the importance of “strict and unfailing adherence” to the Astana agreements on de-escalation zones in Syria, the statement said.

In May 2017, Russia, Turkey and Iran, the guarantors of a Syrian ceasefire regime and mediators for Astana peace talks for a political settlement in Syria, agreed on the creation of four de-escalation zones in Syria, which are guaranteed to be free of battles and airstrikes for six months initially and subject to extensions after that.

According to the Kremlin, the state heads noted the importance of continuing cooperation between Russia, Turkey and Iran to promote the Syrian peace process, and discussed trilateral contacts at various levels in the future.

They discussed the possibility of a meeting between the leaders of the three countries, but the exact date has yet to be decided, Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency reported, citing Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

The Turkish president also expressed condolences on the death of Russian military pilot Roman Filipov, who blew himself up with a grenade after being surrounded by Nusra Front militants as his fighter jet was shot down when overflying a de-escalation zone in the province of Idlib in northwestern Syria.