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The escalation in Syria: NATO backs Ankara, Erdogan meets with Putin

Allies are stepping up Ankara's air defense capabilities after the worsening situation in northern Syria. UN Security Council to discuss escalation in Idlib.

The escalation in Syria: NATO backs Ankara, Erdogan meets with Putin

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

Following the deaths of 33 Turkish soldiers in the Syrian province of Idlib, the North Atlantic Alliance expressed its support and solidarity. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the Allies agreed to support the measures already taken to strengthen Turkey's air defense.

“NATO Allies are supporting Turkey today. We are stepping up their air defense capabilities, we have AWACS aircraft to help patrol the sky, and we are visiting ports and providing support in other ways,” the General said on Friday, February 28 NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, adding that Alliance allies are exploring how they can still support Ankara. The NATO Council, at the request of Turkey, held urgent negotiations on the situation in Syria.

Stoltenberg also condemned Damascus and Moscow and urged them to end the violence in Idlib. “We call on Russia and the Assad regime to suspend attacks, stop indiscriminate airstrikes, and participate and support UN-led efforts to find a lasting, political, peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria,” he said.

Meanwhile, Turkish authorities said during talks in Ankara with the Russian delegation the need for a permanent ceasefire in Idlib, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said. The Turkish side stressed that tensions in the Syrian province should be eased and Moscow-backed Syrian troops should go beyond the ceasefire agreement of 2018.

UN Security Council meeting Putin and Erdogan

An emergency meeting of the UN Security Council will also be held on Friday evening to escalate the Idlib conflict. “The escalation is very, very exciting, and that is why an urgent meeting is needed. We want to call for restraint, de-escalation, and ceasefire,” said Mark Pixten, currently chairing the UN Security Council, to Belgium's post at the UN.

The Kremlin, in turn, announced the meeting of Russian and Turkish presidents next week. “The summit in Moscow is currently being worked out. It will take place either on the fifth or the sixth of March,” said a spokesman for Russian President Dmitry Peskov. Earlier this day, leaders of the two countries had a telephone conversation. As reported in the Kremlin, the presidents called for additional measures to normalize the situation in northwestern Syria.

Recall that since December 2019, the troops of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, supported by Russia and Iran, are conducting an offensive in the Syrian province of Idlib. This is the only territory of Syria that has remained under the control of Islamists and armed groups of the Syrian opposition. Instead, the rebel forces are backed by Turkey, which has repeatedly warned Damascus against further attacks in Idlib.

On February 27, 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in an airstrike by Syrian troops in Idlib, and 36 more were wounded in Turkey.

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