In a move that came as confirmation of his influence on radical Syrian group the al-Nusra Front, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said Russian President Vladimir Putin sought his assistance in clearing al-Nusra militants from the Syrian city of Aleppo.
Al-Nusra, which is linked to terror group al-Qaeda, is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, as well as the United States, the UN and many other countries.
“We had a phone conversation with Mr. Putin yesterday [Tuesday] evening. We talked about Aleppo. He said they stopped aerial bombardment there as of 10 p.m. He made a request [to me for my assistance] in the eviction of al-Nusra from there. I gave the necessary orders to my fellows on this issue,” said Erdoğan, adding that Turkey and Russia reached an agreement to take al-Nusra out of Aleppo for the peace of the people of Aleppo.
Erdoğan’s remarks came during one of his regular meetings with muhtars, or neighborhood heads, at the presidential palace in Ankara on Wednesday.
The Turkish government and Erdoğan are frequently accused of supporting radical groups in Syria to ensure the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power.