The United States moved to "secure" oil rich-regions of eastern Syria late last year after moving troops away from the border with Turkey, sparking international condemnation and charges that Washington's actions were a violation of international laws against pillaging.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he has proposed the joint management of oil fields in eastern Syria to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and has suggested that Russia and Turkey can manage the oil fields in place of the "terrorists" who control them at present.

Speaking to reporters during his flight back from Brussels on Tuesday, Erdogan said that Putin was evaluating the offer, which the Turkish president said he made during talks in Moscow last week. Erdogan added that he may make a similar proposal to US President Donald Trump.

"Deir ez-Zor is another territory with oil reserves. In that province, terrorists exploit the oil resources. America has its own plans here," Erdogan said, recalling the conversation. "I made the offer to Mr. Putin that if he gives financial support, we can do the construction and through the oil obtained there, we can help destroyed Syria get on its feet," he added.

"If such a step can be taken here, I can even make the same offer to Trump," Erdogan said.

Moscow has not yet commented on the veracity of the Turkish president's recollection of his talks with Putin.

However, on previous occasions, Russian officials have repeatedly criticized efforts by any country to violate Syria's territorial integrity or plunder its resources. In November, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused Washington of trying to separate eastern Syria's oil-rich territories to create an illegal quasi-state. A month before that, the Russian military released detailed intelligence implicating the US in a major oil-smuggling operation involving the CIA, the US military, private contractors and Kurdish militias.

Erdogan did not clarify what "terrorists" he was referring to, but Turkey is known to classify Syria's Kurdish People's Protection Units militias as terrorists linked to the Turkish Kurdistan Worker's Party, a militia which has waged a low-intensity guerilla campaign against Ankara since the 1980s.

Ankara Vows Retaliation if Syrian Gov't Violates Idlib Ceasefire

The wayward province of Idlib, now the last major piece of territory outside Damascus's control in Syria's west, is subject to a ceasefire deal between Turkish and Syrian forces brokered by Russia following weeks of heavy fighting.

Turkey will "retaliate" if Syrian government forces violate the Idlib ceasefire deal, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has warned.

Speaking with Turkey's Anadolu news agency on Tuesday, the foreign minister said the ceasefire would help protect civilians in the militant-controlled Syrian province.

Commenting on the details of the Russia-brokered ceasefire in Idlib, Cavusoglu said that under its terms, the Turkish military would patrol north of the security corridor along the strategic M4 highway, with Russian forces patrolling its southern side.

Cavusoglu also commented on the Turkish request for the deployment of US Patriot missile systems along the country's southern borders. According to the foreign minster, Turkey's possession of Russian-made S-400 missile systems were 'not an obstacle' to the deployment of the US systems.

On Monday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters that he had asked Turkey's NATO allies for "additional...assistance on Syria - for the defence of the border, and in connection with the migration challenge."

President Trump revealed March 1 that he had been speaking with his Turkish counterpart about Ankara's request for Patriot missile systems amid the situation in Idlib. Last Tuesday, US Ambassador to Turkey David Satterfield said these discussions were still ongoing.

In his interview Tuesday, Cavusoglu said the US has already provided Turkey with land, sea and air intelligence on Idlib.

2016 Migrant Deal Needs to Be Revamped

Commenting on Turkey's talks with the European Union regarding the new migrant crisis which ignited amid the Idlib crisis as Ankara warned that "millions" of refugees would be sent to Turkey's borders with Europe, Cavusoglu suggested that the 2016 agreement between Ankara and Brussels needs to be revamped.

According to the top Turkish diplomat, the solution would require the EU to liberalize its visa regime with Ankara, and work to update Turkey's customs union with the bloc. He promised that Turkey would be ready to 'work constructively' with the EU on the issue.

Earlier, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned Turkey not to use the migrant crisis issue as a "bargaining chip" in talks with Europe, stressing that "negotiations made at the expense of the weakest will not give the desired result," and urging Ankara to stick to "its part of the deal."

Tens of thousands of migrants, including refugees fleeing the fighting in Syria, but also apparent would-be economic migrants from Afghanistan, Iraq and African countries gathered on Turkey's borders with Greece after Ankara opened the border on the Turkish side late last month. On Sunday, Erdogan called on Greece to "open the gates" to migrants, suggesting that other European countries should be made to deal with the burden.

Under the March 2016 migrant deal, the EU was obligated to provide Turkey with over $3 billion to assist Syrian migrants situated in Turkey. Both sides also agreed to "re-energize" talks on Ankara's possible accession into the bloc. In return, Turkey moved to stop the flow of refugees into the EU.


Russia and Turkey announced a ceasefire between Turkish and Syrian forces in Idlib on Thursday following six hours of talks between Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. The Syrian Army began an operation in Idlib in late 2019 after repeated attacks on its forces by terrorist militias operating in the rebel province. On February 27, Syrian forces carried out strikes against jihadists in the region, killing 33 Turkish troops operating alongside the militants, prompting Ankara to launch 'Operation Spring Shield' to push Syrian forces back.