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Kremlin tells Turkey it cannot guarantee safety of its planes over Syria’s Idlib

The Kremlin on Monday drew Turkey’s attention to a warning from the Russian Defence Ministry that Moscow could not guarantee the safety of Turkish planes flying in Syria after Damascus said it was closing the air space over the Idlib region.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also confirmed that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan would hold talks on Syria in Moscow on Thursday.

The warning came after Turkey shot down two Syrian warplanes over Idlib on Sunday and struck a military airport well beyond its frontlines in a sharp escalation of its military operations following the death of dozens of Turkish soldiers last week.

Ankara has ramped up its attacks, including drone strikes, against the Russian-backed Syrian forces since Thursday, when 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in an air strike by Damascus.

It has already deployed thousands of troops and military vehicles in northwest Syria’s Idlib province in the last month to stem advances by Syrian government forces which have displaced 1 million people close to Turkey’s southern border.

Erdogan said on Monday that he hoped to achieve a ceasefire in Syria’s Idlib in talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin this week.

Turkey and the rebels its backs have escalated attacks in Idlib against Syrian government forces, which are backed by Russia. Erdogan and Putin are due to meet on Thursday.

Speaking in Ankara, Erdogan said that Turkish forces on Sunday rendered unusable Syrian government’s Nayrab military airport, east of Aleppo city.