Russia urges against talk of disaster with Turkey over Syria’s Idlib

Russian-Turkish relations should not be depicted as in crisis even after an escalation in political tensions over Syria's last rebel-held enclave of Idlib, Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Sunday, according to TASS news agency.

A renewed military campaign by the Syrian government, backed by Russian airpower, against rebels in Idlib has raised tensions between Ankara and Moscow, which back opposing sides in the conflict.

"Certainly, we would not like to plunge into this gloomy mood and in fact to make extremely negative scenarios, but the week has really happened to be absolutely restless," Peskov said in a televised interview, TASS reported.

The Russian-backed Syrian government began a fresh military push into Idlib in December, saying a 2018 de-escalation agreement between Turkey and Russia had failed to drive extremist fighters from the province. 

Sixteen Turkish military personnel have been killed in shelling by Syrian government forces over the past two weeks, prompting Turkey to tell Russia to “stand aside” while its forces bombard dozens of Syrian army targets in retaliation.

Moscow has warned Ankara to fulfil pledges made to disarm Islamist fighters it depicts as terrorists. The two sides held talks in the Russian capital last week to help diffuse tensions.