Turkish, U.S. defence ministers discuss Syria at NATO meeting

Turkey's Defence Minister Hulusi Akar and his U.S. counterpart Mark Esper discussed the situation in Syria and Iraq on the sidelines of NATO meeting in Brussels on Wednesday, state-run Anadolu Agency said.

"Hulusi Akar and Mark Esper agreed that NATO and the U.S. should take more concrete steps in the region, during the closed door meeting," Anadolu said, adding that Turkish defence minister expressed appreciation by U.S. statements on recent attacks in Idlib.

Turkey and Russia signed an agreement to prevent the Syrian government's attack on Idlib in September 2018 on the condition that Turkey cleared extremist groups from the northern province. Turkey built 12 military observation posts around the province according to the terms of the deal.

But the Syrian President Bashar Assad, backed by Russia and Iran, resumed its assault on Idlib in April, saying the continued presence of extremist rebel groups had breached the agreement. 

Thirteen Turkish soldiers and one civilian contractor were killed by Syrian shelling in Idlib in just over a week.

the U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said on Twitter Washington stood by Ankara against attacks on Turkey in Idlib and sent U.S. Special Envoy for Syria James Jeffrey to Ankara to coordinate steps to respond to Syrian government's attacks.