Ankara- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu discussed in a phone call on Monday preparations for the upcoming international consultations on Syria peace process in Kazakh capital, Astana, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
“The ministers exchanged opinions on the situation in Syria, stressing the need for strict implementation of the ceasefire that was established with mediation of Russia and Turkey,” sources from Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Some armed Syrian opposition groups have decided to attend peace talks with the government next week in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana, according to rebel officials.
The discussions, scheduled for January 23, intend to build on a nationwide ceasefire that has largely held despite escalating violence across several battlefronts in recent days.
In the meantime, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş said on Monday that Turkey opposes participation of Syria’s Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in the forthcoming talks on Syria.
“Terrorists – ISIS and the Nusra Front [also known as Jabhat Fatah al Sham] as well as PYD – have no right to take part in negotiations in Astana, Geneva or any other place,” Kurtulmus said.
Kurtulmus also expressed his hope that the new U.S. administration would take into account the Turkish position on the Syrian conflict.
“Particularly, the United States must stop supporting PYD terrorists. In other words Washington must understand that PYD cannot be a tool of achieving U.S. goals in the region,” Kurtulmus said.
On the other hand, in terms of the ongoing battles in al-Bab city northern Syria, the Turkish military said in a statement on Monday that a total of 18 ISIS militants were “neutralized” in northern Syria over the last 24 hours as part of the ongoing Operation Euphrates Shield.
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) said a total of 180 ISIS targets including shelters, defense positions, command control centers, weapons and vehicles were hit with tanks and multiple-launch rocket launchers.
Separately, Turkish jets destroyed eight other ISIS targets including headquarters and vehicles used by the terrorists in air raids on al-Bab region, the statement added.