Russian delegation leaves Turkey with no apparent deal on Syria’s Idlib

A Russian team visiting Ankara to discuss the Syrian government offensive in the north-western Idlib region has left, a Turkish diplomatic source said on Tuesday.

It noted that the team left with no apparent agreement on how to halt clashes that killed 13 Turkish soldiers in a week.

The Russians arrived in Ankara on Saturday; days after a Syrian government attack in Idlib killed eight Turkish soldiers.

Ankara then hit Syrian targets in one of the most serious clashes between them in almost nine years of war in Syria.

On Monday, as Turkish and Russian officials held talks in Ankara, a second attack on Turkish troops in Idlib’s Taftanaz area killed five Turkish soldiers after Ankara’s deployment of thousands of troops to stem the Syrian offensive.

“The Russian officials held talks at the foreign ministry on Saturday and agreed to meet again on Monday after failing to reach a deal,’’ Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.

They also held talks with an adviser to President Tayyip Erdogan.

In a statement following the meeting, the Turkish presidency said Ankara told the visiting Russian delegation that attacks on Turkish posts in northwest Syria must be stopped immediately.

The rapid advance by Syrian government forces in Idlib, the last major enclave of insurgents opposed to President Bashar al-Assad, has driven almost 700,000 people from their homes toward the closed-off Turkish border.

Turkey, which already hosts 3.6 million Syrian refugees, said it cannot absorb any more.

Ankara has backed rebels looking to oust Assad, while Moscow and Tehran have supported Assad.

Turkey has said it is ready for military action to halt Syrian advances.

Moscow and Damascus say they are fighting terrorists in Idlib, which is largely controlled by jihadist fighters.

Erdogan also chaired a security meeting with defense chiefs on Monday to discuss steps Turkey may take against the attacks on Turkish troops.

However, the presidency said Turkey reaffirmed its determination to halt clashes and new migrant waves in Idlib.

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