Reuters / Anadolu Agency
Russia's Defense Ministry late on Feb. 27 accused Turkey of violating the Sochi agreement by illegally sending strike drones into Syria's Idlib region to support rebels fighting Syrian government forces, and by providing artillery support for them.
The ministry said a Turkish strike drone had illegally entered Syrian airspace on Feb. 25 and been destroyed by Syrian government air defenses while preparing a strike on government troops.
Russian state TV earlier on Feb. 27 said Turkish military specialists in Idlib were using shoulder-fired missiles to try to shoot down Russian and Syrian military aircraft.
The Russian ministry's accusations came after Turkish and Russian officials ended their third round of talks in Ankara on Feb. 27 aimed at reducing tensions in the region.
Following the meeting, Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency said the delegation urged its Russian counterparts to immediately establish a ceasefire in Idlib.
Turkish officials also highlighted the importance of implementing the 2018 Sochi deal, and emphasized a possible civilian disaster and a mass migration should be avoided, Anadolu Agency said.
Turkish, US defense ministers discuss Idlib
Meanwhile, Turkish Defense Minister and his U.S. counterpart Mark Esper discussed the latest situation in Idlib during a telephone call late on Feb. 27.
The Turkish Defense Ministry said that Akar and Esper exchanged views on finding a solution to the Idlib conflict, bilateral and regional defense and security issues.
Esper later added on Twitter that he and Akar "discussed the Assad regime’s brutal aggression in Idlib, which is backed by Russia & Iran; the resulting humanitarian crisis; & Libya."
"We're exploring ways the US can work together w/Turkey & the international community," the U.S. defense secretary added.
During a phone call w/Turkey’s Minister of Defense Akar, we discussed the Assad regime’s brutal aggression in Idlib, which is backed by Russia & Iran; the resulting humanitarian crisis; & Libya. We're exploring ways the US can work together w/Turkey & the international community. pic.twitter.com/XFVYofHeZo— Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper (@EsperDoD) February 27, 2020
At the same time, the Pentagon released a statement regarding the phone call, saying Esper and Akar "discussed the Assad regime's brutal aggression in Idlib, which is backed by Russia and Iran; the resulting humanitarian crisis in Northwest Syria; and Libya."
"As President Trump said on Tuesday, and as discussed in today's call, we are exploring ways the United States can work together with Turkey and the international community," it said.