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Turkey to host Syria summit with Russia, Iran on September 16

By AFP - Aug 22,2019 - Last updated at Aug 22,2019

Syrian government forces gather near the town of Khan Sheikhun in the southern countryside of the rebel-held Idlib province on August 18 (AFP photo)

ANKARA — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will host his Russian and Iranian counterparts for a summit on Syria in Ankara on September 16, the presidential spokesman said.

"The president will host a three-way summit with the participation of Russia and Iran in Ankara," spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said late Wednesday.

The announcement of the meeting between President Vladimir Putin, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Erdogan comes at a time when the Syrian army made advances into the last extremists' stronghold of Idlib in Syria's northwest. 

Kalin said there was “no question” of moving one of its 12 observation posts in Idlib, despite it being cut off from the rest of the province by the advance of the Syrian army this week. 

“The ninth observation post remains in its place. All the other observation posts foreseen or put in place under the Idlib agreement will continue to operate where they are,” Kalin said. 

He was referring to a buffer zone agreement signed between Russia and Turkey last year that was supposed to protect Idlib from a government offensive. 

The three presidents will discuss Idlib at next month’s meeting, as well as the establishment of a constitution commission and how the political process should continue, Kalin said.

Their last meeting was in February and the September event will be the fifth summit between Putin, Rouhani and Erdogan since November 2017.

Kalin said Erdogan would speak on the phone with Putin in the coming days, adding that preparations were being made for another call with US President Donald Trump.

Damascus said on Thursday it is opening a corridor for civilians to leave the opposition-held north-western region of Idlib.

The announcement came a day after government forces recaptured the strategic Idlib province town of Khan Sheikhun from extremists and allied rebels.

Damascus has opened such corridors out of rebel bastions in the past as a prelude to retaking them either by force or through negotiated surrenders.

The Idlib region, which sits on the Turkish border has been ruled since January by the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham alliance, which is led by extremists from Syria’s former Al Qaeda affiliate.

“The Syrian government announces the opening of a humanitarian corridor in Souran in the northern countryside of Hama province,” state news agency SANA quoted a foreign ministry source as saying. 

The corridor will be used to evacuate “civilians who want to leave areas controlled by terrorists in northern Hama and the southern countryside of Idlib”, it added.

The government said it would provide shelter, food and medical care for civilians who chose to leave the region.

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