Turkey, World, Middle East

Turkish, Russian leaders talk developments in Idlib, Syria

Turkish president says resolution of crisis in Idlib, northwestern Syria goes in line with implementation of 2018 Sochi deal

Ali Murat Alhas   | 21.02.2020
Turkish, Russian leaders talk developments in Idlib, Syria

ANKARA

In a phone conversation, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart spoke on Friday about the latest developments in embattled Idlib, northwestern Syria.

Erdogan told Vladimir Putin that the Assad regime "must be restrained and the humanitarian crisis must be ended in Idlib," northwestern Syria, where around a million civilians have fled attacks by the regime and its allies to take shelter near the Turkish border.

He went on to say that resolving the crisis unfolding in Idlib hinges on "full implementation" of the 2018 Sochi deal.

Both leaders reiterated their commitment to all agreements reached concerning Syria. 

In a separate statement, the Kremlin said Putin had expressed serious concerns over "the aggressive activities of extremist groups" in Idlib.

He also urged respect for Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity, the statement said.

Erdogan and Putin "agreed to intensify bilateral consultations on Idlib aimed at reducing tensions, ensuring a cease-fire and neutralizing the terrorist threat," it said, adding that contacts between Turkish and Russian military representatives "will continue in an intensive mode."   

Attacks drive wave of refugees

Idlib, near Turkey's southern border, 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 Turkish border in recent months, fleeing attacks by the Assad regime and its allies, and causing 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 take action.

In the call, the two leaders also discussed developments in Libya, where renegade commander Khalifa Haftar's forces continue to attack the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA).

Since the ouster of late ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two seats of power have emerged in Libya: Haftar in eastern Libya supported mainly by Egypt and the UAE, and the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, which enjoys the UN and international recognition.

Libya's legitimate government has been under attack by Haftar’s forces since last April, and more than 1,000 people have been killed in the violence.


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