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UK: 'Syrian regime and Russia responsible for human tragedy'

Dominic Raab, Britain’s foreign secretary
Dominic Raab, Britain’s foreign secretary

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that the Syrian regime and Russia are primarily responsible for the human tragedy in Idlib Governorate, north-western Syria.

This came in a press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, on Tuesday, in the capital, Ankara.

Raab pointed out that the aim of his visit to Turkey is to show Britain's solidarity with Ankara, stressing that the friendship between Turkey and Britain is far greater than ever.

Regarding the recent migrant problem related to the developments in Syria, Raab said: "The Syrian regime and Russia are primarily responsible for the human tragedy, as their unjust attacks in Idlib are among the most devastating ones in the recent past."

The British minister pointed out that Turkey hosts millions of refugees, stressing the need for the international community to work on sharing the burden for that matter.

He stated that Turkey made efforts during the Sochi talks to find a political solution to the Syrian issue.

Raab explained that, as part of NATO, Britain supports the Turkish efforts to impose a cease-fire again in Idlib.

He expressed his uneasiness over the death of 34 Turkish soldiers due to an attack by Al-Assad forces in Idlib, offering his condolences to Turkey and its people.

Raab indicated that Turkey is one of the NATO's most important allies, saying: "We support Turkey's efforts to impose a cease-fire again in Syria, and protect civilians from the unfair attacks launched by the Damascus regime."

Read: Syrian British Council calls on UK government to support Turkey operation in Idlib

He stressed that Turkey had borne a heavy burden since the outbreak of the crisis, through its policies towards refugees, while pointing to the Turkish efforts to find a political solution through the Sochi talks.

The British official noted that Britain had fulfilled its pledges to support the Syrian refugees and Turkey, which is hosting them.

He also referred to attempts made by a large number of immigrants present in Turkey to reach Europe following the start of the regime's attacks in Idlib, adding: "We worked together, and we addressed issues of the flow of a new wave of migrants, especially in Western Turkish borders, which bears great importance."

Raab explained that Britain is one of the countries dedicating large funds to help solve the Syrian crisis, spending 3.1 billion pounds since the outbreak of war in the region. He noted that the British authorities have pumped since last year more than 220 million pounds to implement projects in various fields in Syria.

He stressed the existence of shared security concerns between Turkey and Britain, saying: "For Britain, Turkey is a NATO ally, a member of the G20, a founding member of the Council of Europe, and an irreplaceable partner."

In response to a question about the safe zone in northern Syria, Raab asserted: "We are in solidarity with Turkish friends, and we have to study carefully the details related to implementing the no-fly zone. This is an important step for the future, which necessitates a close examination of the possibilities of its implementation."

About bilateral relations, Raab pointed out that one of Britain's priorities is to sign a "free trade" agreement with Turkey this year.

Turkey continues to implement Operation Spring Shield against the Syrian regime forces in Idlib, in response to Al-Assad's aggression against Turkish forces, on 27 February, which resulted in the death of 34 soldiers.

In May 2017, Turkey, Russia, and Iran announced that they had reached an agreement to implement de-escalation zones in Idlib, areas of Latakia, Hama, and Aleppo, and the northern countryside of Homs, as well as Eastern Ghouta in Rif Dimashq, Quneitra and Daraa in the south of the country, in light of the Astana talks on the Syrian file.

The regime and Iran backed-terrorists, who have been offered air support by Russia, launched an attack on the areas above and took control of three, in total disregard of the ceasefire announcement.

The Syrian regime and its partners then intensified the attack on Idlib, the last de-escalation zone.

The attacks have resulted in the death of more than 1800 civilians, and the displacement of more than 1,942,000 others, since the signing of the Sochi Memorandum of Understanding between Russia and Turkey on 17 September 2018 on curbing escalation in Idlib.

As a result of the bombing and violent attacks, the regime has controlled from that date till today, several major cities, most notably Kafr Nabudah, Khan Shaykhun, Maarat Al-Numan, Saraqib, and large areas southeast of Idlib, in addition to seizing the northern and eastern countryside of Hama, and the southern and western countryside of Aleppo.


Europe & RussiaInternational OrganisationsMiddle EastNATONewsRussiaSyriaTurkeyUK
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