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Turkey condemns Syria, Russia assault on Idlib

September 6, 2018 at 1:07 pm

Smoke rises after Russia carried out air strikes in Idlib, Syria on 4 September 2018 [Hadi Harrat/Anadolu Agency]

The Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has condemned Russian and Syrian regime plans for an assault on Idlib after a recent attack carried out by Russian jets killed ten civilians, including five children.

At a news conference with his German counterpart Heiko Maas yesterday, Cavusoglu said that Turkey contacted Russia after the attack and said “this is wrong”.

He also claims that the attack and others are aimed at capturing Idlib, which he said “carries a serious risk” and would turn out to be “disastrous from many angles”.

Read: US vows to ‘respond swiftly’ if Syria launches chemical attack on Idlib

Idlib had been deemed a de-escalation zone, an area where Syrians are safe from air strikes. However since clearing the rest of Syria of opposition groups, Idlib remains the last remaining bastion of opposition against President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime.

Cavusglu claimed that gathering opposition fighters in Idlib was part of the Syrian regime and Russia’s plan, insisting that “the plan was clear from the start. These groups will go there and then, by pretending the existence of those groups there, it will attack to capture it…the regime’s desire to attack and capture Idlib is clear.”

Read: Syria, Russia pound Idlib as northern assault begins ahead of peace talks

The opposition forces that are currently in Idlib have expressed their hope that Turkey, their main ally, will prevent the attack from Russia and Al-Assad. According to Reuters, Free Syrian Army (FSA) Commander, Mustafa Sejari, said:

We realise the extent of vengeance and massacres that will befall us if they get our heads. They will slaughter us. The coming battle is to be or not to be.

Talks over the fate of Idlib are to be held at a trilateral summit in Tehran, Iran, tomorrow between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. A common strategy is to eliminate agreed-upon terror groups from Idlib, but there are increasing fears over the number of civilian who may be affected and injured in the process.