Turkey’s Erdogan, Russia’s Putin Discuss Syrian Issues

Russian President Vladimir Putin has discussed the situation in Syria with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a phone conversation on July 14, the Kremlin said in a statement.

“Particular attention was paid to joint steps aimed at resolving the crisis in Syria on the basis of resolutions of the UN Security Council and the agreements reached within the Astana format,” the statement said. “[They] agreed to stay in contact.”

Russia, Turkey, and Iran are all deeply involved in the seven-year Syrian conflict and sponsor peace talks in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana.

Meanwhile, a Turkish presidential source quoted by Reuters said Erdogan told Putin on July 14 that the avoidance of “negative developments” in Syria’s northwestern Idlib Province was important in terms of encouraging rebel groups to attend a meeting in Astana planned for July 30-31.

With help from Russia and Iran, President Bashar al-Assad has now recovered most of Syria but anti-Assad rebels still control Idlib, while a Kurdish-led militia controls the northeast and a large part of eastern Syria.

The two presidents spoke by telephone after the Syrian government raised the flag on July 12 over areas of Daraa in southwestern Syria that were in rebel hands for years. The source said Erdogan expressed concern over the fate of civilians there.

“President Erdogan stressed that the targeting of civilians in Daraa was worrying and said that if the Damascus regime targeted Idlib in the same way the essence of the Astana accord could be completely destroyed,” the source said.