Turkey says ceasefire not yet secured in Syria's Idlib

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said there were “serious and sincere efforts” with Moscow to stop the violence, but said a full cessation had not been realised.
Thursday 13/06/2019
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu meets with French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in Ankara, Turkey, June 13, 2019. (Reuters)
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu meets with French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in Ankara, Turkey, June 13, 2019. (Reuters)

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday said a ceasefire had not been fully secured in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province, despite an announcement by Moscow.

“We are working hard with Russia to stop these attacks. It is not possible to say a complete ceasefire has been secured,” Cavusoglu told a press conference with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian in Ankara.

Moscow announced a ceasefire was brokered with Turkey in the Idlib de-escalation zone as of midnight on June 12, after weeks of escalating rocket fire and air strikes by the Syrian regime and Russian forces.

Cavusoglu said there were “serious and sincere efforts” with Moscow to stop the violence, but said a full cessation had not been realised.

He also confirmed an earlier report that Syrian government forces had launched mortar attacks on a Turkish observation post in Idlib, injuring three soldiers.

“If the regime continues these attacks, we will do what is necessary,” Cavusoglu said and called on Russia and Iran, who support the Syrian government, to “fulfil their responsibility.”

Idlib is supposed to be protected from a massive regime offensive by a September buffer zone deal signed between Russia and rebel backer Turkey.

But it was never fully implemented, as jihadists refused to withdraw from the planned demilitarised zone.

The government and Russia have upped their bombardment of the region since late April, killing more than 360 civilians since the end of April, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor.

Le Drian said the priority in Idlib must be to “restore calm and serenity to avoid a new humanitarian disaster.”

“We call on the Syrian regime and its supporters to stop their indiscriminate attacks against civilians in Idlib,” he said.

(AFP)