Turkey wants to maintain cease-fire in Idlib

By Zuhal Demirci and Sarp Ozer

ANKARA (AA) – Turkey's Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Monday the country's most important aim in Syria's Idlib is to stop land and air attacks and establish cease-fire and stability.

Answering questions from reporters in capital Ankara during Afghanistan's National Day reception, Akar said Turkey "wants the absolute cease-fire to be maintained" which was planned within the scope of Astana peace process brokered by Turkey, Russia and Iran.

"If the cease-fire is not maintained, then civilians, children and elderly people would suffer the most in case of an attack," Akar said.

"Our most important aim is to maintain cease-fire and stability in the region," he said.

At least 17 people were wounded on Monday by airstrikes carried out by regime and Russian warplanes in Idlib and Hama provinces in northern Syria.

Since the beginning of this month, at least 29 civilians have been killed and dozens injured in airstrikes and attacks by regime forces and Russian warplanes in Idlib and Hama, according to White Helmets, a local civil defense agency.

The Syrian regime has recently announced plans to launch a major military offensive in Idlib, which has long been controlled by various armed opposition groups.

The UN warned last week that such an offensive would lead to the "worst humanitarian catastrophe in the 21st century".

Located near the Turkish border, Idlib is home to more than 3 million Syrians, many of whom fled from other cities following attacks by regime forces.

On Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for a cease-fire in Idlib during the tripartite summit held in Tehran with Iran's President Hassan Rouhani and Russia's President Vladimir Putin.