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Turkey’s president heads to Moscow amid intensified fighting in Idlib


Turkey’s president heads to Moscow amid intensified fighting in Idlib

putin erdogan talks
Photo: Reuters

Today, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lands in Moscow for a meeting with Vladimir Putin that’s likely to focus on the intensification of conflict in northern Syria. This comes after a Turkish convoy was nearly bombed by regime forces during an air raid in Idlib last week.

Backed by Russia, Syrian government forces have escalated their attacks on the northwestern city since late April. Idlib is the last stronghold of groups opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

President Erdogan has openly discouraged the government’s offensive on Idlib due to the city’s proximity to Turkey’s borders, labelling the increased conflict a threat to national security. Since 2011, Turkey has taken in more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees, which has created security and socioeconomic issues in southeastern Syria.

In 2018, Moscow and Ankara signed a protection deal to protect Idlib from a government offensive— an agreement Mr Erdogan will raise during his conversations with Vladimir Putin.

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Another Syrian refugee exodus into Turkey would heap pressure onto an already tense Russo-Turkish relationship. Expect the Russian side to use today’s meeting to balance between securing victory for Mr Assad and protecting the bilateral relationship with Turkey. Avoiding the collapse of the Idlib will be first on the discussion list in that regard.

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