ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the current situation in northwestern Syria and tentatively agreed to a trilateral summit with Iran to be held in Istanbul, according to news reports on Thursday.
According to state-run Russia Today, Erdogan briefed his Russian counterpart on the latest developments in Turkey’s ongoing incursion into the Kurdish-held canton of Afrin in northwestern Syria.
Ankara and its allies have been carrying out a ground and air assault on Afrin for the past three weeks, aimed at driving out the US-backed People’s Protection Units (YPG), which the Turkish government views as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
A statement put out by the Kremlin claimed Putin and Erdogan agreed to “strengthen coordination between the two countries’ military and security services in Syria in the fight against terrorism.”
Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, confirmed that Russia agreed to hold a possible summit with Iran and Turkey, similar to its predecessor in the Russian city of Sochi, but no date has been set for the Istanbul-based meeting.
The three countries, currently in the throes of the Syrian civil war as President Bashar al-Assad’s backers, held a meeting late last year and a peace conference earlier this year in the Russian resort city of Sochi.
The Turkish and Russian leaders reportedly also agreed on establishing and speeding up the process for new observation posts near the de-escalation zones in Idlib and exchanged views on the Astana process.
Several rounds of UN-sponsored conferences and the involvement of multiple ground forces in Syria have been unable to put an end to the protracted war which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions more.
Early Thursday morning, the US-led coalition issued a statement outlining unprecedented clashes between pro-regime forces in Syria and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) which resulted in the death of 100 pro-Assad fighters.
“The coalition conducted strikes against attacking forces to repel the act of aggression,” a coalition spokesman said. “You hit us, we will respond aggressively. We will defend ourselves,” added coalition commander, Lt. Gen. Paul Funk.