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US officials in Turkey to discuss escalation in Syria

US envoy to UN to stress urgent need of UN-authorized cross-border access for delivery of critical humanitarian assistance

Beyza Binnur Donmez   | 02.03.2020
US officials in Turkey to discuss escalation in Syria


American delegation arrived in Ankara on Monday to hold talks on Syria with Turkish officials.

The delegation will be accompanied by Kelly Craft -- the U.S. ambassador to the UN -- and James Jeffrey -- the U.S. special envoy for Syria and also a former U.S. ambassador to Turkey -- "amid growing alarm over escalating violence in Syria," according to a media note released by U.S. mission to the UN.

"Assad-regime forces, backed by Russia and Iran, have unleashed a brutal military campaign in Idlib, killing hundreds of civilians and forcing nearly a million people to flee, constituting the largest number of displaced people since the Syrian war began nine years ago," the statement read.

During her visit, Craft will stress the "urgent need of UN-authorized cross-border access for the delivery of critical humanitarian assistance to Syrian communities and the displaced struggling without supplies and proper shelter in freezing temperatures."

The U.S. delegation is also expected to meet representatives of the UN and NGOs -- who are working to respond the growing humanitarian crisis.

Turkey on Sunday launched Operation Spring Shield after at least 34 Turkish soldiers were martyred and dozens injured in an Assad regime airstrike in Idlib, a de-escalation zone in northwestern Syria, just across Turkey’s southern border.

Turkey’s only target during the operation is Assad regime soldiers and elements in Idlib under the nation's right to self-defense, stressed Defense Minister Hulusi Akar.

The martyred Turkish soldiers were working to protect local civilians under a September 2018 deal with Russia, which prohibits acts of aggression in Idlib.

But more than 1,300 civilians have since been killed in attacks by Assad and Russian forces in the zone, as the cease-fire continues to be violated, sending about a million refugees towards Turkey's border with Syria.

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