Russian warplanes are intensely pounding Syria’s northwestern Idlib province to add pressure on Ankara ahead of an anticipated meeting between President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi, according to a senior Turkish official.
By the end of September, a tripartite summit, including Iran, will be held in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi under the Astana process.
Speaking to Hürriyet Daily News under the conditions of anonymity, the senior official said that the “main agenda point is Syria, namely Idlib.” They were referring to planned talks in Sochi.
“The conditions set out in the Idlib agreement have not been fully implemented,” they added.
An agreement signed in March 2020 had followed weeks of fighting that brought Turkey and Russia close to conflict and displaced nearly a million people.
The official added that the intense strikes launched by Russian and Syrian warplanes on targets in Idlib in recent weeks indicate that the calm that has prevailed in the region since the March 2020 agreement had started to change.
Moscow is trying to pressure Turkey through its sudden escalation of airstrikes in Idlib, the official explained.
In an article published by Hürriyet, Turkish writer and analyst Sedat Ergin said that Moscow and Damascus stepping up their airstrikes in Idlib over the last few weeks aims to redirect Turkey’s attention away from developments in Afghanistan.
Ergin warns that Turkey could be looking at a future like that of Afghanistan in Idlib.
“The sudden increase in Russian air attacks in Idlib is possibly aimed at putting pressure on Ankara for other political reasons,” said Ergin, highlighting that the strikes come just a few days away from the anticipated talks in Sochi.
For Ergin, Russia is “trying to reinforce its negotiating position by conducting more strikes ahead of the summit.”