Turkey presses Russia for new truce in Syria’s Idlib: Official

The rebel-held Idlib region has seen an uptick in violence as gov’t forces supported by Russian air raids hit the area.

Presidential spokesman Kalin says Ankara expects an end to the government attacks in Idlib in 24 hours [File: Shaun Tandon/AFP]
Presidential spokesman Kalin says Ankara expects an end to the government attacks in Idlib in 24 hours [File: Shaun Tandon/AFP]

Turkey said on Tuesday it was talking to Russia with the aim of reaching a new ceasefire after increased bombardment in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province.

“We are closely following the process for an end to the attacks, and these attacks should come to an end immediately and implemented under a new ceasefire,” Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told a televised news conference. “This is our main expectation from the Russian side.”

A Turkish delegation, led by Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal, travelled to Moscow on Monday to discuss developments in Libya and Syria, as thousands of civilians began moving towards Turkey due to Russian and Syrian army attacks.

Speaking in Ankara following a cabinet meeting, Kalin said Ankara had asked Russia to establish a ceasefire in the region.

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The Idlib region has seen an uptick in violence in recent days as Syrian government forces supported by Russian air attacks have launched a fresh assault to capture one of the largest urban centres in the area.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad‘s government has repeatedly promised to take back the area, and bombardment has continued despite a ceasefire announced in August.

The United Nations estimates that some 60,000 people have fled from the area, heading south, after the bombings intensified earlier this month. Thousands more have fled further north towards the Turkish border in recent days.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly said Ankara cannot handle a new refugee flow on its own.

Russia blamed for attack

On Tuesday, at least eight people, including five children, were reportedly killed as missiles hit a school in northwest Syria sheltering displaced civilians.

Activists blamed Russia, al-Assad’s main ally in the war, for the missile attack that hit the Jobas village school. Five children and a woman were among the dead, according to the Britain-based monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Local journalists also reported the same death toll. 

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Opposition activists say more than 40 villages and hamlets are now under government control in southern parts of Idlib.

Idlib hosts some three million people, including many displaced by years of violence in other parts of Syria.

Syrian troops have been pushing towards the rebel-held town of Maarat al-Numan that sits on a highway linking the capital, Damascus, with the northern city of Aleppo, Syria’s largest.

Al-Assad’s forces appear determined to eventually reopen the strategic highway, which has been closed by the rebels since 2012.

Source : News Agencies

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