MOSCOW: The leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran will discuss the difficult situation in Syria’s Idlib province when they meet in Ankara early next week for a summit, Yuri Ushakov, a senior Kremlin aide, said on Friday. Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani are due to hold talks on Syria in Ankara on Monday. Russia has asked Iran to refrain from any action that could jeopardize saving its troubled nuclear pact after Washington pulled out if it, Ushakov added.
Meanwhile, Syrian opposition activists say a car bombing in a town in northern Syria controlled by Turkey-backed opposition fighters has wounded several people.
There were no reports of deaths in the explosion.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitoring group, said Friday’s blast in the town of Afrin occurred near the offices of a Turkey-backed opposition faction.
Afrin Now, an activist collective, quoted the Civil Defense in the town as saying as many as 25 people were wounded.
Activists also said that shortly after the initial explosion, two mortar shells wounded two people.
Turkey and allied Syrian fighters took Afrin last year, expelling Syrian Kurdish fighters considered terrorists by Ankara.
The Turkish takeover set off a series of attacks against Turkey’s presence in the originally Kurdish-dominated areas.
On Thursday, airstrikes pounded the south of Syria’s Idlib region, despite a cease-fire that had halted a fierce army offensive against the opposition stronghold two weeks ago.
Government warplanes bombed the south Idlib countryside for the first time since, including Maarat Al-Numan town, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitor, said.
Mohammad Rashid, spokesman for the Jaish Al-Nasr opposition faction, said the raids had intensified after strikes on a few positions in the rural west of Idlib in the past two days.
Idlib, in Syria’s northwest corner, is the last big chunk of territory still in opposition hands after more than eight years of civil war.
Idlib enjoyed a lull in airstrikes after Damascus and its ally Moscow declared a cease-fire on Aug. 31 following five months of bombing which the UN says killed hundreds of people.
This was the second such truce announced there in a month. A cease-fire in early August collapsed within three days, after which the Russian-backed forces of Bashar Assad pressed its offensive and gained ground.
Turkey, which supports some opposition factions, brokered a “de-escalation” deal with Russia in 2017 that sought to curb fighting in Idlib. It does not cover opposition militants.
Opposition fighters said on Wednesday that pro-government forces were massing on the front line.