The Russian military is accusing its Turkish counterpart of embedding its armed forces among militant positions in an insurgent-held corner of Syria as violence escalates one day before a critical summit between Moscow and Ankara’s heads of state. The two sides are also accusing enemy forces of plotting chemical attacks.
The Russian Defense Ministry alleged that “#Turkey has allowed its observations posts, established under 2018 #Sochi deal, to virtually merge with #terrorist bases in #Idlib,” according to a tweet posted Wednesday by Moscow’s embassy in Damascus. “In violation of international law it has deployed a strike force the size of a mechanized division there.”
Russia and Turkey support opposite sides of Syria’s nine-year civil war, with the former joining Iran in backing President Bashar al-Assad and the latter being the last major world power to support the insurgency fighting to oust him. Rebels and jihadis have faced successive defeats at government hands, leaving them only in control of parts of northwestern Idlib province, where an intense offensive has led to direct deadly conflict between the Syrian and Turkish militaries.
In an attempt to ease tensions and implement a previously-established ceasefire, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are set to meet Thursday in Moscow. In spite of these talks, tensions are rising and clashes continue on the ground.