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Kremlin expects Putin, Erdogan to agree on steps to end crisis in Idlib

The talks are scheduled for March 5

MOSCOW, March 4. /TASS/. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov has expressed the hope that the talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan scheduled for March 5 will help understand the causes of the Idlib crisis and agree on a package of measures to end it.

"Plans are in store to discuss the Idlib crisis with Erdogan. We expect that an understanding on the forerunner of that crisis, the reasons for that crisis, the fallout from that crisis and the package of necessary joint measures aimed at ending it will be reached," he told reporters.

The Kremlin spokesman refrained from specifying what particular measures were meant. "Let’s wait for tomorrow," he said.

On March 3, the Kremlin press service reported that Putin and Erdogan would hold talks in Moscow. Peskov earlier stressed that Moscow was committed to the Sochi agreements, favored Syria’s territorial integrity, supported Syria’s determination to continue the fight against terrorist groups, including those on the UN Security Council’s list and assigned high priority to cooperation with its Turkish partners.

The situation in Idlib deteriorated dramatically once again on February 27 when, according to the Russian Defense Ministry, militants attempted to launch a major offensive. The Syrian military carried out a strike against them, which, according to Ankara, has killed 36 Turkish soldiers. Shortly after that, the Turkish armed forces retaliated by carrying out attacks against Syrian positions, specifying that more than 200 targets had been hit.

On February 27, Ankara launched a new military operation in Syria dubbed Operation Spring Shield against Syrian forces. Turkey has conducted three military operations in Syria: Euphrates Shield, Olive Branch and Peace Spring. They resulted in creating a buffer security zone between the border towns of Azaz and Jarablus, occupying Afrin and taking under control the territory east of the Euphrates River.