Turkish, Russian defence chiefs agree on further measures in Syria

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar met with his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoygu on Thursday, speaking on the Ankara-Moscow cooperation in northern Syria.

The ministers discussed attacks against pro-Turkey groups in the region, and agreed to take further precautions against violations of the ceasefire in northern Syria, where the two countries have been holding joint patrols along the M4 highway as per last March’s ceasefire agreement, following Turkey’s military incursion into Kurdish-held areas in October.

“There are occasional violations of the ceasefire, and some attacks, but they say these are out of their control,” Akar told reporters in a press event after the meeting, according to a statement the ministry released. “The Turkish Armed Forces and (Turkish soldiers) respond as necessary to the attacks.”

Turkish forces have neutralised more than 200 soldiers in retaliation, Akar said.

United States and Russia are both upholding their commitments in the region, Akar said, adding that “all parties” were “doing the duties that fall on them” to ensure stability and “pave a path towards peace”.

Turkey-backed opposition groups have been targeted in Russia-backed Syrian regime attacks near the Idlib province, and Russian jets have fired on Turkey’s allied groups in Idlib, Jarablus and al Bab, with ballistic missiles in the latter two.

“We have discussed all the differences we have, and the violations of the memorandum of understanding (with Minister Shoygu)”, Akar said. “Our goal and wish is for the ceasefire and peace to become permanent in the region as soon as possible.”