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Merkel, Macron urge Putin to stop attacks in Idlib, Syria

German, French leaders express readiness to meet Putin, Erdogan for political solution in Idlib, Syria

Ayhan Simsek   | 20.02.2020
Merkel, Macron urge Putin to stop attacks in Idlib, Syria


German and French leaders called for an immediate end to attacks in Idlib, northwestern Syria, in a phone call with the Russian president, a government spokesman said on Thursday.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, following their meeting in Brussels, held a joint phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin and discussed recent developments in Idlib, Steffen Seibert, a spokesman for the German government, said in a statement.

“They called for an immediate end to combat operations and an unhindered humanitarian access,” he said, adding that the civilians in Idlib were facing a catastrophic humanitarian situation.

“They also expressed their readiness to meet with President Putin and Turkish President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan to find a political situation to the crisis,” Seibert said.

Syria has been mired in a vicious civil war since early 2011 when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million others displaced, according to UN figures.

Idlib falls within a de-escalation zone laid out in a deal between Turkey and Russia in late 2018. The Syrian regime and its allies, however, have consistently broken the terms of the cease-fire, launching frequent attacks inside the territory where acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.

The de-escalation zone is currently home to about 4 million civilians, including hundreds of thousands displaced in recent years by regime forces throughout the war-torn country.

Some 1 million Idlib refugees have moved towards the nearby Turkish border in recent months, fleeing attacks by the Assad regime and its allies, and producing a desperate humanitarian situation.

Turkey has called for an immediate halt to the attacks on Idlib, and for the cease-fire to be followed, warning that if the attacks do not stop Turkey will act.

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