France urges ‘cessation of hostilities’ in Idlib, Syria

Macron government demands Syrian regime, allies to stop offensive in northwestern province

Cindi Cook   | 06.02.2020
France urges ‘cessation of hostilities’ in Idlib, Syria


France expressed deep concerns regarding the Assad regime’s military offensive in northwestern Syria and attack on Turkish troops stationed in Idlib to monitor a cease-fire.

"We are deeply concerned about the situation in Idlib and the risk of escalation after the strikes by the Syrian regime against positions established in the context of the implementation of the Sochi agreement of September 17, 2018," its Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs said Thursday.

Syrian regime shelling Monday left seven Turkish military personnel dead, along with one civilian contractor.

The clash comes after Turkey’s recent installment of reinforcement Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) in Idlib.

Turkey retaliated by striking more than 50 targets and killing 76 Syrian regime soldiers.

"We call for an immediate cessation of hostilities in the province of Idlib. Particular responsibility lies in this regard with the allies of the Syrian regime," the French ministry said.

Monday's attack flies in the face of the 2017 Astana peace process and the 2018 Sochi peace process, both involving cooperation of Turkey, Russia, and Iran. The latter two powers are the main allies behind the Assad regime.

Idlib was established through peace processes as one of four de-escalation zones. Continued military attacks by the Assad regime have violated both agreements.

Hundreds of civilians have been killed with more than 500,000 fleeing after weeks of aerial bombardment in the northwest province, home to over four million people. The attacks have occurred primarily in civilian areas and near medical facilities.

The French ministry said indiscriminate bombing by the regime and its supporters violates international humanitarian law.

"The military offensive led by the regime and its allies in the province of Idlib aggravates the humanitarian crisis and jeopardizes the search for a negotiated political settlement to the Syrian crisis in accordance with resolution 2254 of the United Nations Security Council."

Idlib has been a stronghold of opposition and anti-government armed groups since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

It is currently home to four million civilians, including hundreds of thousands displaced in recent years by regime forces from throughout the war-weary country.

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