The U.S. on Thursday voiced solidarity with its NATO ally Turkey, calling for an "immediate end" to the Bashar al-Assad regime's offensive on northwestern Syria's Idlib province following deadly attacks on Turkish forces.
"We stand by our NATO Ally Turkey and continue to call for an immediate end to this despicable offensive by the Assad regime, Russia and Iranian-backed forces," a State Department spokesperson speaking on condition of anonymity told Anadolu Agency.
"As the President and the Secretary have said, we are looking at options on how we can best support Turkey in this crisis," the spokesperson added.
At least 33 Turkish soldiers were martyred and 36 others injured in an airstrike by the Assad regime in Idlib, a Turkish official said late Thursday.
"There are critically wounded [people, following the attack], and they are being treated at hospitals," Rahmi Dogan, the governor of Turkey's southern Hatay province, earlier told Anadolu Agency.
Following the attack, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu spoke with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg over the phone, according to diplomatic sources, but no information on the topic of discussion was disclosed.
In September 2018, Turkey and Russia agreed to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.
But more than 1,300 civilians have been killed in attacks by the regime and Russian forces in the zone since then as the ceasefire continues to be violated.
The de-escalation zone is currently home to 4 million civilians, including hundreds of thousands displaced in recent years by regime forces throughout the war-torn country.
More than 1.7 million Syrians have moved near the Turkish border due to intense attacks.
Since the eruption of the bloody civil war in Syria in 2011, Turkey has taken in some 3.7 million Syrians who fled their country, making it the world’s top refugee-hosting country.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.