Turkish, Russian military chiefs discuss Idlib on phone

– Yasar Guler, Valery Gerasimov discuss latest developments in embattled province in northwestern Syria

By Jeyhun Aliyev

ANKARA (AA) – Turkish and Russian military chiefs had a phone call to discuss latest developments in Idlib, a de-escalation zone in northwestern Syria, the Turkish army said on Thursday.

Turkey’s Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Guler and his Russian counterpart Gen. Valery Gerasimov also exchanged views on the current issues, the Turkish Armed Forces said on Twitter.

At least five Turkish troops were martyred and five injured in an attack by Assad regime forces in Idlib earlier this week.

That followed last week’s attack by regime forces in Idlib which martyred seven Turkish soldiers and one civilian contractor working with the Turkish military. It also injured more than a dozen people.

In retaliation, Turkey neutralized more than 120 Assad regime military personnel since last week.

Turkish troops are in Idlib — nominally a cease-fire zone, under a deal between Turkey and Russia — as part of an anti-terror and peace mission.

Idlib has been a stronghold of the opposition and anti-government armed groups since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

In September 2018, Turkey and Russia agreed to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.

But more than 1,800 civilians have been killed in attacks by regime and Russian forces since, flouting a 2018 cease-fire and a new one that began on Jan. 12.