The Kremlin’s press service said on Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin has no plans to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss the situation in Syria's Idlib province, despite the Turkish leader's claims that such a meeting is likely.
Turkey's president said earlier that he is likely to meet Putin in Istanbul for talks on Idlib next week.
"At the moment, there is no such a meeting in President Putin's schedule for March 5. President Putin has other working plans on March 5," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, as cited by RIA Novosti.
According to the Turkish leader, he recently held telephone talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, after which a roadmap on Syria was drawn up.
The conversation mentioned by Erdogan took place on February 21, reported Anadolu news agency. In the conversation, he called for the implementation of the Sochi agreement. According to him, this is the main condition for resolving the situation in Syria's Idlib. He also said that the Syrian army should be "restrained in the region" to prevent a humanitarian crisis.
Before the talks, Erdogan described the situation in the province as a "large-scale war," noting that about a million people are fleeing the fighting in Idlib.
On February 18, Turkish and Russian diplomats held talks in Moscow in an attempt to resolve the next Syrian crisis. These negotiations have not yielded results.
On February 20 at around 3 PM local time in the north-east of Syria’s Idlib province, pro-Turkish forces with support from Turkish artillery began an offensive towards the city of Saraqib, which was captured by Assad’s forces several weeks ago. Less than two hours after the start of the attack, Russian aircraft intervened. When the Syrian army’s defenses near the towns of Qminas and Nayrab were breached, Russian Su-24 bombers attacked, destroying the opposition’s armored vehicles. Syrian government forces were then able to retake the positions.
The Turkish Defense Ministry reported that two Turkish soldiers were killed and another five were wounded in an air raid, but did not specify whose air raid was responsible for the deaths. Fahrettin Altun, director of communications for the Turkish presidential administration, later clarified that Syrian aircraft had been responsible for the fatal attack. Turkey responded by “neutralizing” more than 50 Syrian soldiers, destroying two armored transports, two pickup trucks and one anti-air system, the Turkish news outlet Daily Sabah reported.
On February 21, the Russian Center for Reconciliation of Warring Parties in Syria reported that a large convoy of military equipment and trucks with ammunition were moving from Turkey to Idlib.