Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called on both Russia and Iran to pressure Syrian authorities to immediately halt its military offensive in Syria’s northwestern rebel-held province of Idlib – which borders southern Turkey. Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stressed that Russia and Iran must fulfil their obligations under a trilateral accord that was reached with Turkey last year, under which the three countries announced a “de-escalation zone” in Idlib province. After Damascus launched an attack on Idlib, however, Turkey’s top diplomat summoned the Iranian and Russian ambassadors to complain about the violations of their de-escalation zone agreement, and said that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would call his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to discuss the issues.
Minister Cavusoglu further noted that scheduled talks in the Russian resort city of Sochi, which aims to bring representatives of both the Syrian government and opposition to the negotiations table, would demand an immediate halt of any attacks by the regime against the opposition – or else the Russian brokered talks would fail.
It is important to note that among the nearly three million people that live in the Syrian province of Idlib, many of them are Islamist fighters and their families that fled Syrian army advances across the war-torn-country, including members of the Islamic State and other Al-Qaeda-linked groups.