The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said that at least 78 Turkey-backed Syrian rebels were killed and dozens more were injured in Russian airstrikes on a military training camp in Idlib. Those targeted were in a camp belonging to Faylaq al-Sham, the monitor said, adding that it was the deadliest attack since the ceasefire came into force in March.
A Turkish military vehicle was hit by a blast on Aug. 17 during a joint Russian-Turkish patrol in northwest Syria's Idlib region. The Turkish Defense Ministry said that the attack on the 25th joint patrol caused a slight damage to one of the vehicles. Russia has repeatedly noted that the patrols are unsafe due to potential attacks by militants.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told his counterparts from Turkey and Iran on July 1 that there was a need for peaceful dialogue between the opposing forces in Syrian war. "An inclusive inter-Syrian dialogue should be actively promoted within the framework of the constitutional committee in Geneva. I propose to support this process, to help the participants to meet and start a direct dialogue," Putin said.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on April 14 repeated an offer to the United States to establish a technical working group including NATO to help solve a dispute over Ankara's purchase of S-400 Russian missile defenses that angered Washington. "We offer the U.S. to establish a technical working group with NATO's inclusion and NATO can lead this technical working group actually. And this offer is still on the table," he said.
Turkey said on April 5 it would minimize its troop movements in operation zones in neighbouring Syria in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Troops deployed in Syria will now enter and exit operation areas only with the permission of the head of the army, the defense ministry said. "Thus, the movement of staff and troops is minimized, unless it is mandatory," it added.
Turkey has vowed to neutralize radical elements that impede the Russian-Turkish joint patrols in Syria's Idlib, the Russian Defense Ministry said on March 23. The ministry added that the latest joint patrol took place earlier in the day on a shortened route due to safety concerns. Their first joint patrol was also cut short earlier this month due to what Moscow called rebel provocations.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said that Turkey and Russia have agreed on the details of a ceasefire in Syria's Idlib region. Under the agreement, Turkish and Russian forces will carry out joint patrols along the M4 highway linking Syria's east and west, and establish a security corridor on either side of it. A Russian delegation arrived in Ankara on March 10 to work out details. Akar said there were signs that migration from Idlib towards Turkish borders had stopped after the ceasefire deal.
Turkey will activate S-400 missile defense systems that it purchased from Russia in April, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, adding that he had also asked for U.S. Patriot systems. Commenting on the ceasefire in Idlib, Erdoğan said that Turkey's military observation posts in the province will retain their current status, adding the agreement laid the groundwork for the normalization of the region.
The United States has voiced support for a ceasefire agreed by Moscow and Ankara for northwest Syria's Idlib region, saying that it expects to talk to NATO ally Turkey about the details of the ceasefire, adding that the most important point is whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and its backers will abide by the deal.
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.
President Erdoğan has responded to criticism on laughing during a speech he made on the deaths of over 30 Turkish soldiers, saying that it constitutes "a diabolic campaign." During his meeting with a group of Istanbul lawmakers of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the footage of his speech was screened. "The whole conversation was ironic," Erdoğan said.
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.
European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Ankara on March 4. Following the meeting, Borrell said he told Erdoğan that the situation at the border with Greece was "unacceptable."
Over 60 intellectuals from Turkey have signed a petition calling for military retreat in Northern Syria and for troops to return home after 36 soldiers were killed in Idlib Feb. 27. Among the intellectuals are academics, authors, journalists and artists.
Iran's Foreign Ministry accused the United States of compromising the Astana peace process between Iran, Turkey and Russia in an official statement on Feb. 28. The statement also claimed that the U.S. "has always sought to create tensions in the region in an irresponsible manner" and that it justifies its presence in Syria with its interest in their oil resources.