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Russia, Turkey hold three-hour talks on Idlib in Ankara - TV

The talks were held behind closed doors at the Turkish Foreign Ministry

ANKARA, February 8. /TASS/. A Russian delegation held talks with their Turkish counterparts in Ankara on Saturday, Haberturk television said on Saturday.

According to the channel, the delegations focused on the situation in Syria’s Idlib de-escalation zone. The talks were held behind closed doors at the Turkish Foreign Ministry for at least three hours.

According to the NTV channel, Foreign Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Sedat Onal was head of the Turkish delegation and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin led the Russian delegation. The talks were also attended by the two countries’ senior defense officials.

The channel reported that at the talks Turkey once more "voiced hope that a ceasefire will be achieved in the region and that the Syrian army will pull back to the borders envisioned in the Sochi agreement" and warned that otherwise, its armed forces "will take necessary steps."

Moreover, Ankara pointed out that it "is determined to respond in kind to any attacks on its observation posts and its troops."

A worsening situation in Idlib has prompted talks between Russian and Turkish officials. The Russian Foreign Ministry said earlier that the Russian and Turkish militaries had again attempted to declare a ceasefire, but terrorists just stepped up their attacks. As a result, Russian and Turkish military officials were killed. In response, the Syrian army launched a counterattack against extremists, seizing the town of Saraqib outside Idlib on February 5.

Idlib is the only Syrian region that has been controlled by illegal armed groups since 2012. A northern de-escalation zone was set up in Idlib in 2017 to give shelter to militants who refused to surrender arms in Eastern Ghouta and Syria’s southern regions.