Turkey Threatens US Forces in Syria, as Putin Presses for Safe Zones

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) shakes hands with his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan during a meeting in Sochi, Russia.

Speaking to Turkish reporters aboard his plane flying back from the meeting in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Erdogan said such zones would include Idlib, part of Aleppo province, El-Rastan in Homs province, a part of Damascus and part of Daraa.

A combination of file photos showing Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia, January 15, 2016 and U.S. President Donald Trump posing for a photo in New York City, U.S., May 17, 2016.

The presidents of Russian Federation and Turkey are holding talks on the situation in Syria and the restoration of full economic ties between their two countries.

The fourth round of Astana talks revolves around a Turkish and Russian plan to establish "de-escalation zones".

The US will be sending a representative to the cease-fire talks in Astana, Kazakhstan on May 3-4, it added. President Bashar al-Assad is entrenched, his Iranian allies resist compromise, and the Syrian opposition is divided, influenced by extremist groups and resists any peace deal that doesn't promptly remove Assad.

A Syrian opposition official says a Russian proposal for safe zones can not be accepted in its current form and that armed rebel groups have questions about it.

Later Wednesday, the U.N. Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura, called on the rebels to return to the talks in Astana "because what is important is also to look at the possibility of an outcome on a de-escalation". Russian Federation wasted little time last month to assail Trump's decision to launch missiles into Syria after reports of a gas attack.

Putin and Trump signaled improving prospects for cooperation in the war-torn country in what the White House called a "very good" phone discussion.

Instead the opposition said it was halting its participation as the fourth round of talks sponsored by Assad allies Russian Federation and Iran and rebel supporter Turkey began.

Syrian rebels said earlier Thursday that they had resumed participation in the talks after having suspended their involvement a day earlier over air strikes against civilians.

Some diplomats see the alliance between Erdoğan and Putin as offering at least a chance of steering the warring sides in Syria towards talks after six years of fighting that has killed hundreds and thousands of people and displaced millions.

Besides the two countries stance on how to approach the Syrian conflict, USA intelligence agencies said they have definitive evidence that Russian Federation was behind the hacking of Democratic email accounts, with the aim of benefiting Donald Trump's campaign and harming his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

  • Leroy Wright