Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar and his Russian counterpart discussed ways to reduce tension in Syria’s Idlib province, the Turkish Defence Ministry said on Tuesday, after the biggest military escalation in northwest Syria in nearly a year. Russia has backed the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Turkey has backed some rebels in Syria’s eight-year civil war, but they have recently worked together to try to contain fighting in the country’s northwest. That effort has been strained by the surge in violence in Syria’s last major insurgent stronghold in recent weeks. The offensive by the Syrian army and its allies, backed by Russia, has uprooted more than 150,000 people, the United Nations says, while rescue workers and civil defence officials say more than 120 civilians have been killed. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called the attacks by Syrian forces a flagrant violation of a September ceasefire that had averted a government offensive. He said in a tweet on Tuesday it went counter to the spirit of Turkey’s efforts to work with Russia and Iran to reduce hostilities and casualties in Idlib and neighbouring areas. On Monday, rebels said they mounted a counterattack against government forces. A senior rebel commander said on Tuesday the offensive showed an array of rebel forces – from Turkey-backed rebels to jihadists – were still able to prevent the army from making major advances despite heavy air strikes. “We conducted this lighting offensive to show the Russians we are not easy prey and throw the
The United States and European Union have expressed deep concern over Turkey’s plans for offshore drilling operations in an area claimed by Cyprus as its exclusive economic zone, adding to tensions between Ankara and its Western allies.
The statements at the weekend came after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said “we are starting drilling” in the region.
Turkey and the internationally recognised Greek Cypriot government have overlapping claims of jurisdiction for offshore oil and gas research in the eastern Mediterranean, a region thought to be rich in natural gas.
“The United States is deeply concerned by Turkey’s announced intentions to begin offshore drilling operations in an area claimed by the Republic of Cyprus as its Exclusive Economic Zone,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said on Sunday.
Turkey’s Kurtulmus says: “It is not possible for an intelligence agency such as the CIA, which even knows the colour of the fur on the cat walking around the Saudi consulate’s garden … to not know who gave this order. This is not credible either for U.S. public opinion or the world public opinion.”
“We do not believe any result can be reached with sanctions. I think meaningful dialogue and talks are more useful than sanctions. Not only neighboring countries but many countries from many regions of the world are being impacted by these unilateral sanctions,” Turkey foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.
But its influence became more explicit in 2016, when Turkish troops and allied Syrian rebels launched a military operation against both the Islamic State group and Kurdish fighters.
"We used to have two foreign languages in our curriculum: English and French. Because of the rapprochement between us and Turkey, all the teachers and administrators decided to switch" from French to Turkish, said Keno.