Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said on February 15 that Turkey has “no intention to invade or annex the Syrian territory”. While speaking at an event of his party in Istanbul, Erdogan acknowledged the problem in Northeastern Syria's Idlib which is the strong-hold of rebels. According to media reports, he added that the problem would not be resolved until the government forces are drawn to limits which are set by Sochi deal. Otherwise, according to the Turkish President, his country's forces will “handle it before the end of February”.
According to international reports, earlier on Saturday, Erdogan had exchanged talks with the United States President Donald Trump on ending the crisis in Syria. Turkey's Directorate of Communications announced on Twitter that the two leaders had agreed that the attacks of the Syrian government forces against Turkish soldiers were unacceptable.
While Turkey raised the importance of the existing Sochi memorandum on Saturday, Kremlin had urged Ankara on February 12 to implement the peace agreements. After a phone call between both leaders, Kremlin reportedly released a statement that Russia and Turkey 'noted the importance of full implementation' of the existing accords including the Sochi memorandum. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart reportedly discussed the de-escalation of the crisis in Syria.
The leaders have also reviewed the different aspects of the settlement of the Syrian crisis especially in the context of the recent escalation in the Idlib de-escalation zone. It was in 2018 when both countries had agreed on a memorandum in order to enforce a demilitarized zone in Syria's Idlib region from which the 'radical' forces were asked to withdraw. However, Russia has insisted that groups of 'terrorists' have continued to fight in the same region.
Erdogan had also said on February 11 that the Syrian government 'would pay a high price', before Turkey-backed Syrian rebels downed a helicopter belonging to the Syrian government in Idlib's Saraqib. On February 10, five Turkish soldiers were killed by the Syrian Army promising a harsh retaliation. Furthermore, a Turkish official told an international agency that the forces loyal to the Syrian government had fired near Turkey's observation posts in Idlib.