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Syrian gov’t forces seize highway in northwest after Turkish-Russian talks end

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Government forces seized control of a highway in northwest Syria for the first time since 2012 on Tuesday, a war monitor said, as talks ended between Turkey and Russia on stopping clashes that killed 13 Turkish soldiers in a week, Reuters reported.

The M5 highway is the main road between Aleppo and the capital of Damascus and runs through to Deraa in southern Syria.

Turkish officials have told a visiting Russian delegation that attacks on Turkish observation posts in northwestern Syria must be stopped immediately and that such assaults will not remain unanswered, the Turkish presidency said on Monday.

Earlier, Ankara said Russian-backed Syrian government forces had killed five Turkish soldiers, among thousands deployed there to help stem a Syrian offensive to retake the last rebel bastion in the country after nearly nine years of civil war.

In a statement following talks between Turkish presidential adviser İbrahim Kalın and the Russian delegation, the presidency said the Russians were told that attacks on Turkish forces were unacceptable and that Moscow must fulfill its duties as mandated by a 2018 de-escalation deal between Ankara and Moscow.

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