İrem UZUN -TDO- Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that Turkey and Russia should resolve differences over the conflict in Syria's Idlib without anger, after a deadly flare-up in violence challenged the fragile co-operation between Moscow and Ankara. The two countries support opposing sides in Syria's nearly nine-year war but have worked together to contain the bloodshed partially and have forged close defence ties in recent years. Russia supports President Bashar al-Assad in the war, while Turkey backs some of the rebels who once aimed to topple him.
An attack by Russian-backed Syrian government forces that killed eight Turkish military personnel on Monday posed the biggest challenge to Russian-Turkish ties since their 2018 deal to stem fighting in Syria's northwest Idlib region. Turkey's defence ministry said seven soldiers and one civilian died in Idlib on Monday when they were shelled by the Syrian army despite being told of their position. In response, Turkish forces "neutralized" 76 Syrian soldiers, it added. After the killing of eight Turkish military personnel were killed, Erdogan warned that Turkey will not let Syria's government gain more ground in the opposition stronghold of Idlib province. "Russian-backed pro-government forces were driving innocent and grieving people in Idlib towards our borders," he added.
Erdogan told Russian forces on Monday there to "stand aside" while Turkey struck dozens of targets in retaliation. "There is no need for us to be engaged in a conflict or a serious contradiction with Russia at this stage," he told reporters on a flight from Ukraine. "We will of course sit down and discuss everything. Not with anger, though. Because those who sit down with anger get up with losses," Erdogan added.