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Germany urges Syria, Russia to protect Idlib civilians

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas addresses the media after the follow-up meeting on Libyataking place on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference (MSC) on February 16, 2020 in Munich, Germany. [Abdulhamid Hoşbaş/Anadolu Agency]
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas addresses the media after the follow-up meeting on Libya taking place on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference (MSC) on February 16, 2020 in Munich, Germany.[Abdulhamid Hoşbaş/Anadolu Agency]

German foreign minister demanded the Syrian regime and Russia protect civilians in Idlib, Anadolu Agency reports.

Heiko Mass told the UN Security Council that UN officials have described conditions in the province where people are freezing to death and attacks on civilians are “cruel beyond belief” in a scene of an ongoing offensive that has left hundreds of thousands displaced.

“Germany calls on Syrian regime and Russia to listen to these voices, [and] to stop ignoring the facts. As parties to the conflict, they have an obligation to protect civilians,” said Mass.

He said the regime and Russia are instead bombing schools and hospitals.

“Indiscriminate attacks on civilians are war crimes and those responsible must be held accountable,” he added.

READ: Russia delegation in Turkey to discuss Syria’s Idlib

A humanitarian cease-fire is essential, said the top German diplomat.

Idlib, near Turkey’s southern border, falls within a de-escalation zone laid out in a deal between Turkey and Russia in late 2018.

The Syrian regime and its allies, however, have consistently broken the terms of the cease-fire, launching frequent attacks inside the territory, where acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.

The de-escalation zone is currently home to 4 million civilians, including hundreds of thousands displaced in recent years by regime forces throughout the war-torn country.

Some 1 million Idlib refugees have moved towards the Turkish border in recent months, fleeing attacks by the Assad regime and its allies, which caused a desperate humanitarian situation.

Turkey has called for an immediate halt to the attacks on Idlib and for the cease-fire to be followed, warning that if the attacks do not stop, it would act.

READ: Russia’s Lavrov rejects calls for ceasefire in Syria’s Idlib 

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