ANKARA (Dispatches) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin have agreed that a working group on Syria’s northwest should convene as soon as possible, Turkey’s foreign minister said on Wednesday.
A recent offensive targeting Syria’s Idlib and surrounding areas by the Syrian army and its allies, backed by Russia, has targeted terrorists, the United Nations says.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu claimed that attacks by Syrian government forces were damaging prospects of forming a UN-sponsored committee to draft a new Syrian constitution.
The Turkish leadership has been increasing its diplomatic engagement with Russia, in an attempt to prevent the Syrian government attacks in Syria's last major terrorist enclave.
Meanwhile, Erdogan expressed Turkey's concern over possible refugee influx to its borders due to the military operation in Idlib, a Turkish official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Nihat Ali Ozcan, a Turkish security expert, said Turkey is worried that the massive attacks by Syrian forces might trigger a humanitarian crisis and cause refugee crises.
Russia has long been putting pressure on Turkey to launch a military offensive against the opposition-held areas, saying that Ankara failed to meet its commitment to end militant attacks against the Syrian government, and failed to convince the opposition to retreat out of a buffer zone and critical highways that underpinned the Turkish-Russian deal.
In September, Russia and Turkey sealed a memorandum in Sochi to enforce a new demilitarized zone between the armed opposition and the government troops in Idlib by the middle of the following month, from which terrorists were required to withdraw.