Erdogan urges Russia to 'assume its obligations' in Syria's Idlib

Kiev (AFP) –


President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Monday for Russia to honour its pledges under a 2018 agreement after eight Turks were killed in shelling by Syrian government forces in northwestern Syria.

"I hope that everyone will assume their obligations under the Astana and Sochi agreements," Erdogan told a news conference in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, in an implicit reference to Russia, which supports the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Syrian forces killed five Turkish soldiers and three civilians in shelling in Idlib, the last opposition bastion in northwestern Syria, early on Monday, according to Erdogan.

"It cannot continue like this and a response has been given," Erdogan said. "We will make them pay the necessary price and will continue to do so."

Erdogan earlier said 30 to 35 Syrian troops had been killed in retaliatory attacks.

He was speaking on a visit to Ukraine, where he also reiterated his opposition to the "illegal" Russian annexation of Crimea.

Last week, Erdogan accused Moscow of "not honouring" agreements made with Ankara in Idlib, where Russian and Syrian forces have stepped up an offensive in recent weeks.

As part of the Sochi deal, Turkey set up 12 observation posts, one of which was surrounded by Assad's forces in December.

Erdogan said Turkey had been too patient in Idlib.

Turkey, which already hosts more than 3.7 million Syrians, fears a further influx of refugees fleeing violence in Idlib.

Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu spoke by phone with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, and the two sides agreed to "look in detail" at the situation in Idlib, according to the Russian foreign ministry.