The escalating situation in Syria over Turkey’s involvement has put its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, under pressure, given the latest territorial gains achieved by the Syrian national army, and the Russian air strike which was made on a Turkish convoy.
And in a surprise move, the Turkish presidency’s office said that Erdogan will pay a one-day visit to Moscow on Tuesday August 27th, for a meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, Reuters reported on Friday August 23rd.
The unscheduled visit comes as the forces of Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad have made advances in the northwest of Syria, and upped the stakes with Turkey, in its months-long offensive which is backed by Russia.
The Turkish troops have been cut off in the town of Morek, Hama province, which is part of the extremist-ruled region centred on neighbouring Idlib province, which borders Turkey, and which has been under government attack since late April, AFP has reported.
"Regime forces have surrounded the Turkish observation post in Morek, after capturing other towns and villages in this pocket," the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Turkey is a vocal opponent of Assad’s regime in Damascus, and instead backs rebels fighting for his ousting.
And Ankara last year struck a deal with Moscow to protect Idlib province from a massive Syrian government offensive.
Turkish officials on Monday August 19th, "strongly" condemned an air strike on its military convoy, which was heading through Idlib province, saying it was a violation of agreements with Syria.
Ankara blamed "regime forces" for the attack, which it said killed three civilians, and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attack was carried out by Syrian and Russian air forces, and was aimed at hindering the convoy's advance through Idlib province.
Putin and Erdogan on Friday August 23rd have agreed to "activate mutual efforts" to ease the situation in Idlib during a phone call, according to the Kremlin.
"They agreed to activate mutual efforts with the goal of liquidating the terrorist threat coming from this region," during the phone call initiated by Erdogan, it said.
Erdogan is to host Putin and Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, for a summit on Syria in Ankara on September 16th.