Moscow, Ankara to enhance coordination after Russian airstrike kills Turkish soldiers

Source: Xinhua  MOSCOW, Feb. 9

Moscow and Ankara agreed Thursday to improve military coordination in Syria after a Russian jet accidentally killed three Turkish soldiers in the Middle East country.

A Russian warplane in an offensive against Islamic State (IS) targets in Syria, mistakenly hit a building in Al-Bab town where Turkish soldiers were stationed, killing three and injuring 11 others, the Turkish Armed Forces said Thursday.

During a phone conversation, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the “tragic” accident, according to a Kremlin statement.

“The two leaders agreed to enhance coordination in military operations in Syria against IS and other extremist organizations,” said the statement.

Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, also expressed condolences to his Turkish counterpart in a phone conversation.

“Both sides agreed on closer coordination in joint actions in Syria, as well as the exchange of information about the situation on the ground,” said a Russian Defense Ministry statement.

Russia began its military intervention in the Syrian civil war in September 2015.

Russia has cut the number of airstrikes and withdrawn the majority of its troops since December 2016 when it, together with Turkey and Iran, brokered a truce in Syria, but a high-ranking military official said Russian jets will continue to support anti-terrorist missions there.

As for the political settlement of the Syrian crisis, Putin and Erdogan reaffirmed their readiness during Thursday’s conversation to actively contribute to the dialogues in Astana, Kazakhstan and in Geneva, Switzerland.

In addition, the two presidents discussed bilateral trade and economic cooperation by phone.