A summit between the two leaders is scheduled for September 29 in Sochi, on the Black Sea. They will seek a difficult agreement over northwestern Syria where there is a further escalation of violence. Russian fighter planes hit in different parts of the province of Idlib: five militiamen dead and 12 wounded among the civilians. Ankara is strengthening its military presence on the ground.
Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) – On the eve of talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Moscow and Ankara are fueling the wind of war in northwestern Syria: the Turks have sent troops to strengthen the last rebel-held stronghold (Idlib province); the Russians stepped up the air raids. In the target of the military objectives of the militias fighting against the government of Damascus.
Local residents and military sources and the opposition confirm that Russian Air Force fighters yesterday attacked and hit villages around the city of Afrin. The escalation started last week and has accelerated again in recent days.
Witnesses report the deaths of five fighters among pro-Turkish militias, at least 12 civilians were injured in Russian bombing. Moscow’s military campaign spanned territory stretching from Jabal to al Zawya in Idlib province, also affecting the area of Afrin on the border with the area controlled by Ankara. In this area, there were also skirmishes with the Syrian army and pro-Iranian militias.
The military escalation comes two days before the summit of the leaders of the two countries, scheduled for September 29 in Sochi (Russian seaside town on the Black Sea) to discuss the agreement reached last year that ended the Russian offensive. A military operation with very serious humanitarian consequences, with around a million refugees in Idlib in what experts have called the most massive displacement campaign in the past decade.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed that progress in implementing the agreement has been slow. He then added that Ankara’s obligation to end the jihadist military presence, according to Moscow the real cause of the violence, will also be discussed. In the past two weeks, however, Turkey has reinforced dozens of bases where thousands of troops are stationed, fueling tensions in an already conflict-ridden region.
Turkey and Russia (along with Iran) are the regional powers that in the past promoted and supported the Astana peace talks on Syria. The scheme has achieved a hard-earned prize and fragile ceasefire. As part of the agreements, Ankara seized a 120 km long strip of land between the towns of Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad, within which it intends to relocate up to two million Syrian refugees hosted in Turkey. In reality, behind the operation strongly desired by Erdogan, there is also the objective of preventing the birth of an independent Kurdish state.