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Erdogan, Putin to hold talks in Sochi over Idlib situation

Turkey's president says he expects the meeting to have positive outcome to prevent humanitarian tragedy in Idlib.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Sochi to discuss the countries' disagreement over the future of the Syrian city of Idlib.

Erdogan will hold talks with Putin on Monday on his one-day trip to the Russian city, the Turkish presidential office said in a statement.

Syrian government has recently announced plans to launch a major military offensive on Idlib province, long controlled by various armed opposition groups and their last bastion in the war-torn country.

Russia and Iran, who back the Syrian government, want to eliminate what they call "terrorist groups" in the province, which neighbours Turkey.

Ankara wants a stable ceasefire in the region to disarm these groups while keeping the peace in Idlib.

The UN warns that a full offensive on Idlib would lead to the "worst humanitarian catastrophe in the 21st century".

On Sunday, Erdogan said that he expected his meeting with Putin to have positive outcomes in order to prevent a humanitarian tragedy in Idlib.

"The outcome of our meeting with Putin will be important. I also have visits to the United Nations General Assembly and Germany towards the end of the month," said Erdogan.

"It is my wish that, with positive decisions made at these meetings, we will carry out the situation [in Idlib] to a new level. If the situation in Idlib continues as is, the results will be heavy." 

During talks in Istanbul on Friday, officials from Turkey, Russia, France and Germany agreed that any attack on Syria's rebel-held Idlib would have severe results and a political solution must be reached, according to Turkey's presidency.

Turkey, Russia and Iran met in Tehran last week but the talks failed to produce any agreement on a ceasefire.

Since the beginning of September, dozens of people have been killed and injured in air raids and attacks by the Syrian government and Russian warplanes, according to activists on the ground.

Thousands took to the streets across Idlib on Friday to protest against a potential full-fledged offensive by government forces and their allies. 


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