Syria's war-battered Idlib region was quiet but tense on March 6 as a ceasefire deal between Moscow and Ankara took effect, with residents and opposition forces describing a lull in air raids that have pounded the last rebel-held enclave in Syria. Russia and Turkey made the agreement late on March 5, after six hours of talks in Moscow, to contain a conflict that has displaced nearly a million people in three months in northwest Syria.
Josep Borrell, the EU's foreign policy chief, has pleaded for migrants in Turkey not to go to the Greek border or try to breach it, saying the frontier was closed and that any encouragement to do by Turkish authorities was a "game" that had to stop. “If we want to avoid critical situations, we have to know the truth. Let’s stop this game,” he said.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that Turkey has the full right to defend itself in Syria. "We believe firmly that our NATO partner Turkey has the full right to defend itself against the risk that’s being created by what [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad, the Russians and the Iranians are doing inside of Syria," Pompeo said on March 5.
Murat Yetkin writes: It is a cliché to say “a photo tells a thousand words” but it is true most of the time. Does this photo taken when the doors opened after talks between Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian host Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin tell anything positive and promising to you? Erdoğan will have to find a way to normalize relations with his European and American allies, considering that it can no longer rely on a permanent relationship with Russia.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on March 5 to discuss escalating tensions in the northern Syrian province of Idlib. The two leaders agreed on a new ceasefire in Idlib which will be effective starting at 12 a.m. on March 6.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin later today in Moscow. Erdoğan hopes his visit to Moscow will yield an immediate ceasefire in Syria's Idlib, said Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın. "We have broad relations and we're hopeful as we go to (Russia)," Kalın said.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said that he considers Turkish people to be a brotherly nation for the Syrians. The Syrian leader also said that the feud between Syria and Turkey is "illogical," stressing that Damascus had not attacked Turkey and that both states have common interests.
Two more Turkish soldiers were killed by government forces in northwest Syria, the defense ministry said on March 4. NATO member Turkey has seen 59 troops killed in Idlib since the beginning of February. The latest casualties included six wounded, the defense ministry said, adding it retaliated and struck Syrian targets.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told fellow conservative lawmakers that she is in favour of setting up safety zones in northern Syria, two participants at the meeting told Reuters on March 3. Similarly, German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told German news agency DPA that the European states should take stronger responsibility to de-escalate tensions and pave the way for a political solution to the conflict in Syria.
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham praised Turkey's efforts in Syria's Idlib. "Very much appreciate what Turkey is doing to stand with the people of Idlib, Syria. It is time for the world, including the United States, to declare a no-fly zone over Idlib before the humanitarian crisis escalates," he said.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov has accused Turkey of violating international law in Syria's Idlib, as tensions in the province continue to rise. "No one in the West notices the actions of the Turkish side which has already transferred to Syria's Idlib forces as large as a mechanized division in order to 'implement the Sochi agreements at any cost,'" TASS cited Konashenkov as saying.
Russian Defense Ministry has accused Turkey of trying to push 130,000 refugees from Syria into Greece. The two thirds of these refugees - that Turkey is pushing from temporary camps in Syria - are Afghans, Iraqis and Africans, not Syrians, it said.
The European Parliament's former Turkey rapporteur, Kati Piri, has said in a statement on Twitter that the European Union failed to uphold its end of the 2016 migrant deal with Turkey after several EU countries have criticized Ankara's recent move to ease border restrictions.
The United States is willing to provide ammunition to Turkey for Syria's Idlib, James Jeffrey, U.S. Special Envoy for Syria said on March 3. "We will make sure that equipment is ready and usable," Jeffrey told reporters. U.S. Ambassador to Turkey David Satterfield said on the same day that the U.S. is examining Turkey's request for air defenses.
Libya's eastern-based government linked to military commander Khalifa Haftar opened an embassy in Syria on March 3 and called for the two countries to unite in their common fight against Turkey-backed militant groups. "Terrorism will kill any Arab country if it's permitted and if the criminal [President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan is permitted to win this fight," Syria's deputy foreign minister Faisal Mekdad said at a ceremony to open the embassy.