Lavrov Denies Russia, Syria Role in Deaths of Turkish Troops
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during a meeting with his Chinese counterpart in Moscow on March 11, 2016
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday that Moscow and Damascus were not behind an air strike in northern Syria that killed four Turkish soldiers last week.
“Neither Russia nor Syria, its air force, had anything to do with this,” Lavrov told a news conference in the southern Turkish resort of Alanya, alongside his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.
Turkey earlier blamed the Syrian regime for the November 24 strike, which came on the first anniversary of the shooting down of a Russian military warplane by the Turkish air force.
The 2015 incident sparked an unprecedented crisis in relations between Turkey and Russia, who remain on opposite sides of the Syrian conflict.
Turkey has embarked on an ambitious military operation inside Syria since August, supporting opposition fighters who have so far retaken Jarabulus, Al Rai and the symbolically important town of Dabiq from ISIS.
The Turkish army blamed the Syrian regime for the deadly strike, while Turkish media reported the Turkish troops were killed by ISIS.
“To concentrate on fighting terrorists we must continue to improve coordination,” Lavrov said.
“We coordinate with the U.S.-led coalition, of which Turkey is a part, with the goal of avoiding unplanned incidents. So, through these channels, it would make sense to check who was flying and who was not flying.”
Cavusoglu said his country and Russia want a cease-fire in Syria.
Speaking alongside the Russian FM, Cavusoglu said: “We are in agreement that a cease-fire is needed so that the tragedy can come to an end.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan caused waves in Russia this week with remarks suggesting that Turkey’s military actions in Syria aim to topple the Assad regime.
“Our president’s, our views on Assad are known,” said Cavusoglu. “We know that Assad is responsible for the deaths of 600,000 people. We may at times have different views on Assad with Russia, that is natural but in general on cease-fire, on humanitarian aid and a political solution — we are in agreement with Russia.”
Cavusoglu said Turkey wanted to “deepen” cooperation with Russia while Lavrov said the two nations agreed that the “normalization (of ties) must be achieved fast.”
(Source / 01.12.2016)