The influx of Syrian government forces into the demilitarized zone of the northwestern province of Idlíb was negotiated by phone call by Vladimir Putin’s Russian President and Recep Tayyip Erdogan Turkish President – posted on Tuesday by Fahrettin Altun, Communications Director of the Turkish Head of State Office.
According to the records, Erdogan stated during the conversation that the Syrian regime is more intent on torpedoing Russian-Turkish cooperation to resolve the situation in the region. At the same time, the Turkish President stressed that the troops of the Syrian President of Basso-Asad had violated the cease-fire in the so-called stress relief zone over the last two weeks.
Erdogan pointed out that targeting civilians and destroying schools and hospitals cannot be explained by the fight against terrorism.
The Turkish Head of State also indicated that the escalating tension posed the danger of failing to pursue a political solution, including the establishment of a Constitutional Committee.
Altun did not comment on the position of the Russian President in his report.
Putin’s and Erdogan’s telephone conversation took place after Hulusi Akar’s Turkish defense minister called on Syrian government forces to stop the idolatry last Friday;
Ankara, on the side of moderate insurgents, and Moscow supporting Damascus in September last year signed an agreement on the establishment of a demilitarized zone in the Kazakh capital. The parties agreed that in the northwestern part of Syria a 15-20 km wide band would be separated from the rebel forces. The zone also includes some parts of the adjacent Latakia, Hama and Aleppo provinces, in Idlí, the last bastion of the insurgents. Although some standards have not been respected by the opposing parties since then, and armed provocations have been regular, until recently there has been relative peace in the area.
Ankara also fears that the advancement of Asad’s forces will threaten about a dozen Turkish military observatories on the edge of the collision zone.
About two weeks ago, government forces and their allied Russian troops started offensive in Idlib and northern Hama. The Syrian government has already stated in March that they are ready to force back the areas under the control of the various opposition militias and to re-unite the country under the leadership of Basar el-Assad. Idlíbet is largely controlled by Hajá’s Jihad as-Sam (HTS) jihadist organization.
The Human Rights Syrian Observatory (OSDH) reported last week that barrel bombs were being deployed in the attack series. According to the UN, at least 100 civilians were killed in the offensive, resulting in about 180,000 people being forced to flee.
At present, some 3 million people are currently living, most of whom have fled to the province in the early stages of the civil war since 2011.