Published: Sun, February 16, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

Erdogan, Trump discuss ways to end crisis in Syria's Idlib

Erdogan, Trump discuss ways to end crisis in Syria's Idlib

Turkish and Russian officials held talks in Ankara on Saturday and Cavusoglu said a Turkish delegation would go to Moscow on Monday for talks.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said he pushed Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who was also in Munich, for Russia to lean on Assad's government to stop the fighting.

Turkey will not remain silent while Syrian government forces surround Turkish military posts in Syria's Idlib region, President Tayyip Erdogan said in comments reported by NTV, as Ankara and Moscow trade barbs over the escalating conflict.

Hundreds of civilians have been killed while 800,000 Syrians have been forced to leave their homes to flee the offensive since December, according to the United Nations.

Turkey said on Saturday it had fulfilled its responsibilities in Idlib region in line with de-escalation agreements with Russian Federation and Iran, warning it would take military action in the area if diplomatic efforts with Moscow fail.

"We demand that the parties, especially the Syrian regime and its allies, immediately end their military offensive, establish a genuine and lasting cease-fire, guarantee the protection of civilians and fully adhere to global humanitarian law", Estonia's Ambassador Sven Jurgenson said on behalf of France, Germany, Poland and Belgium.

The situation in Idlib could see the flight of a million new refugees, but Turkey can't afford to host them after receiving more than 3.5 million Syrians since the civil war began nine years ago, Erdogan was cited as saying by national television channels on Saturday.

Ankara seeks a diplomatic resolution to an uptick in fighting in Idlib, Syria, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said, but it is prepared to take other steps if talks with Russian Federation fall through.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said later on Saturday that Turkey wants to resolve matters with Russian Federation over Idlib through diplomacy, but will take other steps if necessary.

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"The solution in Idlib is the (Syrian) regime stopping its hostility and withdrawing to the borders in the agreements".

Syrians fleeing with their belongings pass through the town of Batabo in Aleppo province on Feb.5.

Much of the Turkish military equipment being sent into Syria finds its way into the hands of Jabhat al-Nusra* immediately after crossing the border, a military-diplomatic source told Sputnik on Saturday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after talks with his Turkish counterpart on Saturday that it's a "very hard task" to resolve the crisis even as contacts continue.

Ankara has been angered by the seizure by Syrian government forces of Turkish military observation posts established in Idlib under the 2018 deal.

Iran, which also supports Assad, said last week it was ready to help Ankara and Damascus resolve their disputes.

Russian state news agency Ria Novosti reported that Erdogan made a phone call to Russian President Vladimir Putin early on Wednesday before his fiery speech and discussed the Idlib crisis.

Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally with the alliance's second-biggest army, has supported rebels looking to oust Assad.

Tensions in Idlib have flared up recently as the Syrian government forces, which are launching wide-scale offensives against the rebels in the area, exchanged fire with Turkish troops, causing multiple deaths on both sides.

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