ANKARA — Turkey has said it wanted no “face off” with Russia over its Syrian ally’s months-long offensive against Turkish-backed rebels in northwest Syria. Russia warned Turkey meanwhile to stop arming the “terrorists” saying Russian warplanes had struck Ankara-backed groups in the Idlib region. The region’s growing volatility prompted Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Emmanuel Macron in Berlin on Thursday to call for talks with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In their phone call with Putin, Germany said Merkel and Macron also voiced concern about a “humanitarian catastrophe” that has seen an estimated 900,000 people flee their homes since December. Earlier on Thursday, Turkey blamed a Syrian airstrike for the deaths of two of its soldiers in Idlib. It brings the number of Turkish personnel killed by Syrian forces this month to 16. Five others were wounded on Thursday, the defence ministry said “We have no intentions of a face-off with Russia,” Turkey’s defence minister Hulusi Akar told CNN Turk broadcaster, adding talks would continue with Russian officials. One of the issues being discussed is the airspace above Idlib and Turkey’s expectations for Russia not to get involved, Akar said. There has been no concrete agreement between Russia… Read full this story
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