Turkey urges Russia, Iran to stop offensive on Idlib

A drone used in an attempted strike on Russian military bases in Syria.   Russian Ministry of Defense

A drone used in an attempted strike on Russian military bases in Syria. Russian Ministry of Defense

Almost three million people are believed to be in the Idlib region, their numbers swelled by fighters and civilians who fled Syrian army advances elsewhere in the country.

Under last year's deal with Iran and Russia, Turkey says it has deployed troops to observation points in northern Idlib, about 60 km (40 miles) north of the latest Syrian army offensive.

Russian Federation wants to bring all the parties in the Syrian conflict together for a conference in its Black Sea resort of Sochi at the end of this month but the tensions with Ankara are proving a major obstacle.

"Iran and Russian Federation need to carry out their responsibilities".

An operational room of opposition groups fighting in the area denied that regime forces had broken the siege.

Ankara has already summoned the Russian and Iranian ambassadors, in the biggest public flare-up of tensions with Moscow and Tehran in months.

The foreign ministry told Russia's Ambassador to Ankara Alexei Yerkhov that the violations must end until the "Syrian National Dialogue Congress" is held on January 29.

Cavusoglu repeated Turkey's red line over its presence in Sochi by saying that: "We have said we will not be in any environment. where the YPG is present".

Explosives attached to drones used in attack on Russian military bases in Syria
Explosives attached to drones used in an attack on Russian military bases in Syria. Russian Ministry of Defense

There is also tension over a U.S. failure to extradite the Pennsylvania-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen whom Turkey says ordered the failed coup of July 2016, as well as the USA conviction earlier this month of a Turkish banker over a scheme to help Iran avoid United States actions.

Residents of the village in the Jabal Zawiya mountains said they had no knowledge of the attack and expressed fear that Russian Federation would retaliate against them.

"There is a risk it will involve the wrong people at the wrong time", the diplomat added.

Many other Syrians and also Russians have speculated that foreign intelligence agencies with reasons to provoke the Russians may have helped a local group conduct the attack. "The goal is different here", he said.

"Yet all three have an interest in a consensus".

According to an analysis by defence consultancy firm HIS Markit group, most Isis drones had a range of no more than 2km, making the terrorist group one of the unlikelier culprits.

In the first attack of its kind, Moscow said on Monday militants had used drones to attack its naval and air bases in the nearby provinces of Tartus and Latakia.

In a letter sent to top Turkish officials, Russian Federation said it held Turkey responsible for the drone attacks, which it described as a breach of their cease-fire deal in Idlib province, according to the Defense Ministry newspaper.

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