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Turkey: Erdogan, Putin To Meet In Moscow This Week For Syria Talks

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right) and Russian President Vladimir Putin mark the formal launch of the TurkStream pipeline on January 8.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, will hold talks this week in Moscow amid mounting tensions in Syria, Turkey's presidency said March 2.

Turkey confirmed on March 2 that it had launched a full military operation against Russian-backed Syrian forces following increasing clashes in the last rebel stronghold of Idlib.

The latest escalation followed the killing of 34 Turkish soldiers last week in an air strike blamed on Syria.

"The president is due to pay a one-day visit to Russia on March 5," the Turkish presidency said in a statement.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on March 2 also confirmed the talks on Syria in Moscow.

But the Kremlin drew Turkey's attention to a warning from the Russian Defense Ministry that Moscow could not guarantee the safety of Turkish planes flying in Syria.

Turkey killed 19 Syrian soldiers in drone strikes on March 1 and shot down two government warplanes.

Turkey and Russia -- which back opposing sides in the conflict -- have avoided direct confrontation so far. The two countries share significant defense and trade ties.

Putin on March 2 told Russian news agency TASS that Russia does not plan to go to war with anyone, but wants to dissuade other countries from engaging in conflict with Moscow.

Erdogan and Putin agreed at a meeting in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi in October 2019 to conduct joint military patrols in northeast Syria.

But Syria and Russia look increasingly determined to regain full control of the area and an offensive launched in December has displaced close to a million civilians.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, and TASS
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