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Turkish FM: Russian airstrikes rule out Syria cease-fire

February 12, 2016 at 5:00 pm

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Friday said peace could not be maintained in Syria unless Russia halts its airstrikes.

Speaking to the media ahead of the 52nd Munich Security Conference in Germany, Cavusoglu also said fighting against terrorist organizations like Daesh and the al-Nusra Front should continue.

“If Russia continues its attacks in these regions and the gun battles are not stopped, the cease-fire cannot be maintained. Humanitarian aid cannot be effectively reached,” Cavusoglu added.

The minister said he held a nine-hour meeting with the Syrian Support Group on Thursday evening, which he said was aimed at resuming negotiations in Geneva that were suspended on Feb. 3 “due to Russian airstrikes”.

“It was not possible for talks to continue while the [Russian] attacks are under way. Again, the other cause of the halt of talks on Feb. 3 was that the obstacles before the humanitarian aid were not removed,” said the minister.

Cavusoglu also said the Bashar al-Assad regime was not just using barrel bombs and chemical gasses, adding: “Blockade, starvation and killing this way is one of the important tactics.”

“The issue of humanitarian aid should be made an instrument of policy,” Cavusoglu added.

‘Cessation of hostilities’

The minister also said a political solution was “the most realistic and permanent one” for the Syrian stalemate and commented on the proposed cessation of hostilities announced by world powers.

“I hope, at first, conflicts will be stopped. A duration of a week is envisaged. The opposition will meet forces on site. I hope it will turn into a permanent cease-fire,” said Cavusoglu.

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Syria has remained locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests that erupted as part of the ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings.

Since then, more than 250,000 people in the war-torn country have been killed and more than 10 million displaced, according to UN figures.