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The Latest: Russian, Turkish defense ministers discuss Syria

January 9, 2019
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech to MPs of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) at the parliament in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019. Erdogan said Turkey's preparations for a new military offensive against terror groups in Syria are "to a large extent" complete. Erdogan made the comments just hours after U.S. national security adviser John Bolton met with Turkish officials seeking assurances that Turkey won't attack U.S-allied Kurdish militia in Syria. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The Latest on Syria-related developments (all times local):

10:20 p.m.

The defense ministers of Russia and Turkey have had a phone call to discuss the situation in Syria.

Wednesday’s conversation between Russia’s Sergei Shoigu and his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar followed Turkey’s statement that it wouldn’t hesitate to act against Syrian Kurdish fighters.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a brief readout of the phone call that the two ministers discussed the situation in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib and other regional security issues. It didn’t say whether the situation with the Kurdish fighters was part of the conversation.

Earlier this week, Turkey has rejected U.S. national security adviser John Bolton’s demands for assurances that Ankara would protect U.S.-allies Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria before American troops pull out from the region.

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11:45 a.m.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says Turkey will not refrain from military action to protect its borders from what he describes as threats posed by Syrian Kurdish fighters.

The minister spoke on Wednesday, a day after Turkey rejected U.S. national security adviser John Bolton’s demands for assurances that Ankara would protect U.S.-allies Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria before American troops pull out from the region.

Turkey’s rebuff amplified a rift between Ankara and Washington and raised new questions about how the United States would protect fighters who are U.S. allies in the war against the Islamic State group.

Turkey regards the Kurdish fighters as terrorists.

Cavusoglu told Turkey’s parliamentary foreign affairs committee the U.S. was “struggling to withdraw” from Syria because it was too far engaged with the militia group.

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