Turkey calls for ceasefire in Syria's Idlib, Russia opposes

Arturo Kim
September 7, 2018

Russia, an ally of President Bashar al-Assad's regime, on Tuesday resumed air strikes on Idlib after a 22-day pause.

Hossein Jaberi Ansari, a senior aide in the Foreign Ministry, said the presidents would seek a compromise and that "Turkey and Iran are sufficiently mature politically to facilitate such a compromise".

But as the leaders gathered in Tehran, Russian and Syrian government warplanes hit rebel-held parts of Idlib, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said.

Among them were positions of the HTS and Ahrar al-Sham groups, the observatory said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday at the meeting that an attack on Idlib would result in a disaster and massacre, and that millions of people would be moving towards the Turkish border in the case that an attack took place.

Russian Federation first intervened in Syria in 2015, helping to turn the tide of the civil war in favor of President Bashar Assad's forces.

The Assad government was not directly represented at the summit, nor was the United States or other Western powers.

She warned on Tuesday against the use of any chemical weapons in Idlib, after the White House pledged to "respond swiftly and appropriately" to any such attack.

There is "lots of evidence" that chemical weapons are being prepared by Syrian government forces in Idlib in northwest Syria, the new US adviser for Syria said on Thursday, warning of the risks of an offensive on the country's last big rebel enclave. "And more still, there are no representatives of Jabhat al-Nusra or ISIS or the Syrian army", Putin said.

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His comments come as Syrian troops mass near the northwestern region of Idlib for a major assault that is raising fears of a humanitarian catastrophe on a scale not yet seen in the seven-year-old conflict.

Erdogan has warned against such a catastrophic outcome, and has much at stake in efforts to prevent it at the Tehran summit.

But regime backers Russian Federation and Iran have sworn to wipe out "terrorists", and Assad has declared his determination to retake control of the entire country. "There are a million children".

Iranian fighters have provided critical support for Assad throughout the war.

Idlib is one of the so-called "de-escalation" zones set up as a result of talks by Russia, Turkey and Iran past year as Damascus regained control of more of the country.

All these agreements were later violated, however, as Syrian troops backed by Russian Federation and Iran moved to retake those areas after strafing them with artillery and air strikes - a pattern which could be repeated in Idlib.

The leaders each held bilateral talks before the meeting began in Tehran.

One of the newly sanctioned individuals, Muhammad al-Qatirji and his company Qatirji Company, maintain "strong ties to the Syrian regime and facilitates fuel trade between the regime and ISIS, including providing oil products to ISIS-controlled territory", according to information provided by the Treasury Department, which oversees and enforces sanctions.

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