Syria clashes, Ukraine visit test Turkey-Russia relations

Turkish-Russian relations are reeling after clashes between Turkish troops and Syrian forces that left dozens dead and many more wounded Monday in Syria’s northwest province of Idlib.

The exchange took place as Russian-backed troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad continue an offensive in one of Syria’s last remaining rebel enclaves, where Turkish forces have established observation posts to deter escalation in a conflict that began during the 2011 Arab uprisings.

“Those who are testing Turkey’s determination with this kind of treacherous attack will realize they’ve committed a big mistake,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said before departing for Ukraine. “We can’t remain silent as our soldiers are martyred. We will continue to make them pay.”

While Ankara and Moscow have supported opposing sides in the war, the two have also collaborated on establishing multiple cease-fire agreements through talks in Astana, Sochi and most recently in Moscow last month. Yet the ongoing Idlib offensive has posed new challenges for leaders on both fronts and despite the assertive rhetoric and a slew of negative Russian media reports on Turkey since Monday’s clashes, observers expect relations to stabilize moving forward.

Read the full story on Al Monitor.