By Aamir Latif
KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) – Pakistan on Friday extended condolences to Turkey over loss of lives of the Turkish troops in an airstrike by the Bashar al-Assad regime forces in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province on Thursday.
“Pakistan acknowledges and expresses support for Turkey’s legitimate security and humanitarian concerns in the region, and calls on all regional and international actors to help effectively address and resolve the situation,” said a statement issued by Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry.
The statement said the recent developments are not only a grave threat to regional peace and security but will also exacerbate the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the region.
“Pakistan once again urges the international community to play its role towards finding a political solution to the Syrian conflict, as well as addressing the prevailing humanitarian crisis,” it went on to say.
Late Thursday, at least 33 Turkish soldiers were martyred and dozens of others injured in an airstrike by Assad regime forces in the Idlib, Syria de-escalation zone, just across Turkey’s southern border.
The Turkish soldiers are working to protect local civilians under a September 2018 deal with Russia under which acts of aggression are prohibited in the region.
But more than 1,300 civilians have been killed in attacks by Assad and Russian forces in the zone since then, as the cease-fire continues to be violated.
Thursday’s attack was one of a series since January on Turkish troops, with Turkish officials keeping their pledge that such assaults would not go unanswered.
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.
More than 1.7 million Syrians have moved near the Turkish border due to intense attacks.
Since the eruption of the bloody civil war in Syria in 2011, Turkey has taken in some 3.7 million Syrians who fled their country, making it the world’s top refugee hosting country.