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Nov 27, 2015 10:42 AM

The Latest: Russia supports closing of Turkish=Syria border

The Associated Press

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) The latest developments regarding the war in Syria. All times local.

4:45 p.m.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says he supports France's proposal to shut down the Turkish-Syrian border as a way to fight Islamic State fighters in Syria.

French President Francois Hollande was in Moscow on Thursday to wrap up a week of international visits in a bid to forge a broad international coalition against the IS.

In the wake of Turkey's shootdown of a Russian warplane over Syria on Tuesday Moscow has lashed out at Ankara, accusing it of buying oil from IS and supporting terrorist groups there.

Lavrov told reporters on Friday that Hollande has suggested "concrete steps" in order to shut the Turkish-Syrian border, which, Lavrov said, should "solve the problem of terrorism on Syrian territory."


4:35 p.m.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has called for blacklisting a Syrian rebel group whose members killed a pilot of a Russian warplane and one member of a rescue party.

Speaking after the talks with the Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem on Friday, Lavrov said that "things are not going to go ahead" in the Syria peace talks unless other world powers list the group as terrorist.

Lavrov earlier said that it is impossible to discuss a political settlement for Syria until everyone agrees on a list of the groups that should be invited to talk and those that should be listed as terrorists and therefore not covered by a potential cease-


3:50 p.m.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Moscow has decided to suspend visa-free travel with Turkey. Lavrov said Friday Turkey has been reluctant to share information with Moscow about it citizens accused of involvement in terrorist activities.

The move comes amid a bitter spat between Moscow and Ankara over a Russian warplane downed by Turkey on Tuesday.

Lavrov said the visa-free travel will be suspended starting from Jan. 1.


2:35 p.m.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he warned Russian President Vladimir Putin of the risks of Russian planes intruding into Turkey's airspace during their meeting earlier this month at a G-20 summit in Turkey.

Erdogan said Friday that Putin urged Turkey to accept the Russian planes "as guests."

Erdogan said he responded: "There cannot be uninvited guests. The region is sensitive."

Erdogan was addressing thousands of supporters on Friday.

He also accuses Russia of backing Syrian President Bashar Assad's "terrorist state" which he says is responsible for the deaths of 380,000 people.

He again challenged Russia to prove allegations that Turkey was buying oil from the Islamic State group, and claimed that IS sells oil to Assad and that Russian companies were involved. ___

2:25 p.m.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says that he hopes to have an opportunity soon to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in a step to defusing the crisis over Turkey's downing of a Russian warplane.

Speaking in northwest Turkey on Friday, Erdogan said: "There is a summit in Paris, I believe he (Putin) will also attend. We could sit and talk there."

Erudoga adds: "I would like to meet (Putin) face to face in Paris. I would like to bring the issue to a reasonable point. We are disturbed that the issue has been escalated."


1:00 p.m.

Hundreds have gathered outside an opposition newspaper in a show of solidarity after two of its journalists were jailed on terror and espionage charges for their reports on alleged government arms smuggling to Syria.

Cumhuriyet newspaper's editor-in-chief Can Dundar, and the paper's Ankara representative, Erdem Gul, were sent to a prison in Istanbul late on Thursday. They are accused of willingly aiding a terror organization and revealing state secrets.

In May, the paper published what it said were images of Turkish trucks carrying ammunition to Syrian militants. Cumhuriyet said the images were proof that Turkey was smuggling arms to rebels a claim the government rejects.

More than a thousand people at the paper's Istanbul headquarters on Friday, accusing the government of silencing critics and attempting to cover-up the scandal.


12:40 p.m.

Turkey's foreign minister says Turkey wants to overcome tensions with Moscow over the downing of a Russian plane do through "diplomacy."

Speaking during a visit to Azerbaijan on Friday, Mevlut Cavusolgu urged Russia to help deflate tensions through "level headed statements and acts." His words were carried by Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency.

Cavusoglu said: "we don't favor tensions. We believe we can overcome this problem through diplomacy. We expect the same understanding from our friend and neighbor Russia."

On Friday, aides to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the Turkish and Russian leaders could meet at a climate summit in Paris next week.

But Dmitry Peskov, spokesman to Russian President Vladimir Putin, refused to speculate over whether Putin was considering a Turkish request for a meeting.


12:35 p.m.

Syrian opposition groups say a new wave of airstrikes on the city of Raqqa the headquarters of the extremist Islamic State group has killed at least eight people, including five children.

It wasn't immediately clear who carried out the airstrikes Friday.

The city in northeastern Syria is the Islamic State group's de facto capital and has become the focus of international airstrikes aimed at the group.

A Raqqa-based activist group that reports on IS, known as Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, said that most of the casualties occurred when warplanes targeted the city's Heten School.

The school, like others in Raqqa, has been taken over by IS.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll at 12, including the five children.

Russia and a U.S.-led coalition that includes France have been pounding Raqqa.


10:15 a.m.

France's foreign minister says destroying the Islamic State group's Raqqa headquarters is the main objective of the international military campaign.

In an interview with RTL radio on Friday, Laurent Fabius said "neutralizing and eradicating Daesh" is an objective that all countries agree upon, referring to IS by its Arabic acronym. He spoke after a week of intense diplomacy capped by the French president's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the downing of a Russian passenger plane over Egypt, as well as the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris that killed 130 people. Fabius said Putin agreed on the need to focus international efforts against the extremist group and France is drawing up a map of other, moderate groups, to protect them from warplanes.

He also said the international coalition is focusing on oil convoys from the group's territory, which provide a crucial source of income. He said some of the trucks head toward Turkey, and France believes Syrian leader Bashar Assad is also a buyer.


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