For the second time this week, Turkish soldiers have not joined their Russian colleagues in the joint patrolling of Syria, said Major General Yury Borenkov, director of the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria, as cited by Russia’s Defense Ministry website.
According to Borenkov, because Turkey did not show up, Russian troops patrolled Syria’s Al-Hasakah region independently. The Russian military police has also continued to patrol the Aleppo province. Borenkov noted that the patrols took place according to plan and without incident.
The Turkish military also chose not to participate in the joint patrols on February 3. Then, too, Russian troops patrolled on their own in Aleppo.
In a memorandum of understanding signed by Russian and Turkish presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Erdogan on October 22, 2019, the two countries agreed to carry out joint patrols of Syria.
On February 3, five Turkish soldiers and three civilians were killed during shelling of the Idlib de-escalation zone. Turkey responded by attacking the positions of the Syrian army. Erdogan described the attacks on Turkish soldiers as a “turning point” in the conflict, and demanded that Syrian forces withdraw “to a safe distance from the Turkish observation points in February”.
On February 4, Putin and Erdogan spoke on the phone to coordinate their joint actions in Syria and to discuss the attack against Turkish soldiers which took place on February 3. At the time, Erdogan remarked that such developments have a negative effect on the joint peace efforts in the region.