By Havva Kara Aydin
ANKARA (AA) – Turkey, trying to honor the Sochi agreement with Russia on Idlib, Syria, urges all sides to the conflict to keep their word and work toward stability, said Turkish communications director Saturday on Twitter.
“President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan expressed his concerns about Idlib to President [Vladimir] Putin in a phone call. Russia’s support for the Assad regime worsens the already terrible humanitarian situation,” Fahrettin Altun said, adding that Turkey is faced with 1 million refugees along it border with Syria which heightens security risks.
Referring the Sochi Agreement between Turkey and Russia, he urged all sides to keep their word. “We made an agreement with Russia in Sochi and we are trying to honor that agreement. We will not shy away from protecting our own forces against any threats. Nobody should test our resolve,” he said.
He stressed that Turkey no longer has any patience against horrible actions of the Assad regime which caused the loss of innocent lives and destabilizes the region.
“We have been counting on Russian cooperation. We will seek to secure our national security regardless,” he said.
He also called Russia to not allow the regime to make terror groups an excuse for ethnic cleansing.
About recent attacks on Turkish troops, he said: “The coward regime forces continue to attack our brave soldiers who are trying to achieve a cease-fire and establish safety for the Syrian people.
“Those who support this murderous regime that commits crimes against its own people must think again. We will not be deterred,” he stressed.
Syria has been mired in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million others displaced, according to UN figures.
In September 2018, Turkey and Russia agreed to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.
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.
More than 1,800 civilians have been killed in attacks by regime and Russian forces since then, flouting the 2018 cease-fire and a new one that started Jan. 12.
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, Turkey will act.