UPDATE – Turkish delegation to go to Moscow for talks on Idlib

Alaturka Politika Haberleri

UPDATES WITH MORE REMARKS FROM TURKISH, GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTERS

By Busra Nur Bilgic Cakmak and Ayhan Simsek

ANKARA/MUNICH (AA) – A Turkish delegation will visit Russia next week to hold talks on clashes in Idlib, Syria, Turkey's foreign minister said on Saturday.

"The Turkish delegation on Monday will attend talks in Moscow [on Idlib, Syria]," Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters after a meeting with his German counterpart Heiko Maas on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

Cavusoglu said he discussed the situation in Idlib with Maas.

He asserted that the Bashar al-Assad regime recently intensified its aggression because it believed in a military solution to the conflict rather than a political one.

"We want to see a visible support from Germany and the other European countries and EU like we saw from the U.K. and the U.S.," added Cavusoglu.

"If we can't stop this, there will be a great humanitarian tragedy," he added.

The top Turkish diplomat said briquette dwellings built on the Turkish border for Syrians fleeing Idlib with the help of Germany were only a temporary solution.

The important thing is to achieve a cease-fire, he said, adding: "We want to achieve this through diplomacy with Russia but if this is not possible, our President [Recep Tayyip Erdogan] has already announced that we will take the necessary measures because the regime does not target only innocent people. It also targets our soldiers at the observation points in the field."

"It is not possible for us to tolerate this," he added.

For his part, Maas urged Russia to use its influence on the Assad regime to "stop attacks in Idlib."

He said Germany's "great fear" was that a humanitarian catastrophe might occur in Idlib if clashes did not cease in the region.

Maas told reporters that he has conveyed Germany's concerns over Idlib, during his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Saturday morning.

"We expect from the Russian side to use its influence on the Assad regime so that these attacks could stop," he said, warning that if attacks continue, this would lead to a greater refugee influx from the Idlib region.

Maas expressed hope that talks between Turkey and Russia next week might help achieve progress to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in Idlib.

In September 2018, Turkey and Russia agreed to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.

But more than 1,800 civilians have been killed in attacks by regime and Russian forces since then, flouting both the 2018 cease-fire and a new one that started on Jan. 12.

More than 1.7 million Syrians have moved near the Turkish border due to intense attacks over the past year.

Turkey remains the country with the most refugees in the world, hosting more than 3.7 million migrants since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011.

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