Europe

Germany calls for ‘protected zone’ in NW Syria

Chancellor Merkel urges cease-fire in Idlib, proposes ‘protected zone’ in northwestern Syria

Ayhan Şimşek   | 02.03.2020
Germany calls for ‘protected zone’ in NW Syria

BERLIN 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday called for a “protected zone” in northwestern Syria for hundreds of thousands of civilians fleeing the attacks of the Bashar al-Assad regime.

Speaking at a news conference in the capital Berlin, Merkel expressed grave concern over escalating tensions in Idlib, a northwestern Syrian province, just across the Turkish border.

“We need a cease-fire there, we need basically a protected zone for the hundreds of thousands of people that fled towards the Turkish border,” she stressed.

Merkel said, together with French President Emmanuel Macron, they tried hard last week to de-escalate tensions in the region, called Russian President Vladimir Putin to contribute to a cease-fire in Idlib.

She said they would continue their efforts to achieve these goals.

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

In recent months, nearly 1.7 million Syrians have moved near the Turkish border due to intense attacks by Assad regime and its allies.

In September 2018, Turkey and Russia had agreed to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression were expressly prohibited.

But since then more than 1,800 civilians have been killed in airstrikes and shelling by the regime and its allies.

On Sunday, Turkey announced a new offensive, Operation Spring Shield, in northwestern Syria to protect civilians from the regime attacks.

It came after at least 34 Turkish soldiers were martyred and dozens injured in an Assad regime airstrike in the de-escalation zone on Feb. 27.

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