May 12 2019

Turkey calls for halt to Russian, Syrian regime bombing of Idlib

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar has called for a halt to a Syrian regime offensive against opposition-held Idlib and northern Hama provinces by Russia and and Syrian regime forces,  Euronews Turkish reported.  

Russian aircraft have been carrying out strikes on  Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib simultaneously with Syrian regime warplanes since April 30, resulting in the death of dozens and displacement of hundreds of thousands of Syrians.

In September 2018, Ankara and Moscow agreed to establish a demilitarised zone in Syria's Idlib and to crack down on al-Qaeda affiliated Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in return for halting a destructive Syrian government offensive into the province.

The Turkish defence minister urged Syrian regime forces to return to lines set by the agreement.

“Humanitarian problems grow each day and it is increasingly showing a tendency to turn into a catastrophe. We expect Russia to take effective and determined measures to make regime forces stop their attacks on the south of Idlib and immediately return to the borders set by the Astana agreement”, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu News Agency quoted Akar as saying.

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency on Sunday reported the Syrian regime carried out an artillery attack near Turkish observation point in the Idlib demilitarised zone.

The attack, in which there was no damage at the observation point in the Zawiya region, northwest of Hama, marks the third  by regime forces near the observation point in two weeks, Anadolu said. 

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin on Thursday claimed the strikes targeted “terrorists” and were carried out “in coordination with our Turkish partners.”

Most of Idlib province has been under the control of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a former Al-Qaeda affiliate, since Jan. 2019.

Eleven of the 15 UN Security Council members on Saturday condemned the loss of innocent civilian lives and called for a ceasefire.