Turkey seeks 'permanent ceasefire' in Syria's Idlib ahead of Russian Federation meet

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The offensive has disrupted a fragile cooperation between Turkey and Russian Federation, which back opposing sides in the conflict, but have collaborated towards what they say is a political solution to the almost nine-year war. But a Syrian government offensive has disrupted Ankara and Moscow's fragile cooperation after 13 Turkish soldiers were killed by Syrian attacks in the past two weeks. For instance, the Astana Process granted Turkey the authority to establish 12 (now expanded to 18) observation posts in and around the province as part of de-escalation efforts with Russian Federation, but Syria has simply circumvented the positions, cutting off three entirely. Ankara is calculating that its strategy won't ignite a major military crisis with Moscow, but the more Syrian forces push into Idlib, the more likely it is that Turkey will send enough troops to the area that they end up in the direct line of fire.

But, speaking during an worldwide security conference in Munich, he added: "If it won't work through diplomatic channels, we will take the necessary steps".

Earlier, Ankara had said the Turkish military eliminated 63 Syrian government troops "within 24 hours alone".

Idlib remains the last terrorist enclave in Syria.

Given the gradual Syrian advance, Ankara has reason to prevent a refugee flood before it can happen, particularly as Turkey's fragile economy and its society's rising anti-Arab sentiment make it hard for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government to welcome more displaced Syrians.

Turkey's FM Mevlut Cavusoglu, right, and Russian FM Sergey Lavrov, left, speak during a meeting on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Feberuary.

Cavusoglu tweeted that he had a "positive meeting" with Lavrov but that Turkey would not be "making an evaluation" until after Monday's talks in Moscow.

The US, which has seen its sway in the Turkish capital diminish in recent years, tried to capitalise on the recent disagreement to dissuade Turkey from maintaining close ties with Russian Federation, especially in the defence industry.

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"What is needed now as a matter of humanitarian concern for the people of Idlib and as a matter of basic avoidance of another refugee crisis, is firm pressure on (Russian President Vladimir) Putin to stop", he said.

The conflict in Syria has killed more than 400,000 people since it erupted in 2011 following the brutal repression of popular demonstrations demanding regime change. "Soon even a respirator won't work and, God willing, the regime will suddenly turn into a corpse". Erdogan said this week the Turkey-backed rebels launched an offensive to retake some areas they had lost to Syrian forces.

Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally with the alliance's second-biggest army, has supported rebels looking to oust Assad.

More than 3.5 mil Syrians have fled to Moscow since the civil war began.

Syrian government forces made new gains on Sunday in their offensive against the last major rebel bastion in the northwest, seizing villages and towns around second city Aleppo, state media and a monitor said.

Turkey, which now hosts 3.6 million Syrian refugees, has said it can not handle a new influx from Idlib.

Syrian government forces made significant advances on Sunday in the country's northwestern Aleppo province, seizing most of the rebel-held region, state media said, a day before a new round of talks between Turkey and Russian Federation on the escalation in the area.



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