Ankara trying to keep Syria peace efforts alive with Russia: Turkish FM

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (C) shakes hands with his Iran's counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) as Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavuşoğlu (R) looks on after a news conference in Moscow on December 20, 2016. Russia, Iran and Turkey agreed to guarantee Syria peace talks and backed expanding a ceasefire in the war-torn country, Russian foreign minister said after talks with counterparts. / AFP PHOTO / Natalia KOLESNIKOVA

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said Ankara and Moscow are trying to keep peace efforts for Syria alive despite Syrian government advances and a deadly clash between Turkish and Syrian forces, Euronews reported.

However, Çavuşoğlu also renewed a call on Russia to “rein in” the Syrian government forces and reiterated Turkey’s determination to retaliate against any future Syrian attack on its troops.

On Monday Turkish artillery targeted Syrian government forces in northern Idlib province, responding to shelling that killed seven Turkish soldiers and a Turkish civilian.

A Syrian war monitor said 13 Syrian troops were also killed in the clash.

“The Astana and Sochi peace processes have not been completely destroyed but have lately started to suffer and to lose importance,” Çavuşoğlu told reporters in Ankara, referring to Russian-Turkish peace initiatives that have also involved Iran.

Çavuşoğlu, who spoke on the phone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov hours after the incident, added: “The regime’s aggressiveness has to be stopped immediately. That was the message I gave Lavrov yesterday.”

Çavuşoğlu dismissed claims by Russia that it cannot fully control the Syrian government and said the attack came despite a prior notification by Turkey of its troops’ coordinates in Idlib.

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