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Erdogan to Hold Syria Summit With Russia, France and Germany

FILE - Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the members of his ruling party at the parliament, in Ankara, Turkey, Feb. 5, 2020.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday said he would hold a summit with the leaders of Russia, France and Germany on March 5 to discuss the situation in Syria's last rebel enclave of Idlib.

"We will come together on March 5 and discuss these issues," Erdogan said in a televised speech, following a phone call on Friday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and his tele-conference with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The Turkish leader did not say where the summit would be held but his announcement comes a day after Macron and Merkel called for a four-party Syria summit also involving the Russian leader.

A months-long offensive by Russia-backed Syrian troops against rebels backed by Turkey in northwest Idlib has seen close to one million civilians flee the violence.

The two European Union heavyweights on Friday "expressed their willingness to meet President Putin and Turkish President Erdogan to find a political solution to the crisis," the chancellor's office said.

Russia on Wednesday objected to the U.N. Security Council adopting a statement that would have called for a cease-fire in Idlib, diplomats said, after a tense closed-door meeting.

Turkey, which has threatened an "imminent" operation in Idlib after its troops have come under intense fire from regime forces, has given Damascus until the end of this month to drive back its army positions.

Syrian regime fire has killed 17 Turkish personnel this month alone, sparking a war of words between Ankara and Moscow, a key Damascus ally.