Erdogan, Putin discuss Idlib over phone

Turkish President Erdogan spoke to his Russian counterpart Putin over the phone to discuss recent Syrian regime attacks on Idlib which could trigger a massive exodus from the province where around 3 million people live.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin had a phone conversation on late Monday evening to discuss recent developments in Syria's Idlib and bilateral relations.

President Erdogan stressed that the Assad regime has reached an alarming level of violating the ceasefire in Idlib which is under the de-escalation zone, Communications Director of Turkish Presidency Fahrettin Altun shared on his Twitter account.

Parts of Idlib and Hama provinces have been under attack for two weeks.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the regime has now taken control of a number of villages in southern Idlib.

The monitor said on Sunday there were 20 Russian air strikes, including barrel bombs being dropped by helicopters. Almost 300 civilians have died in the offensive and hundreds of thousands have fled.

The UN has warned of a humanitarian disaster if the fighting continues.

Russia, the biggest outside backer of Syrian regime leader Bashar Assad in his fight against rebels, has been preparing for an offensive on the city of Idlib, which is mostly controlled by Hayat Tahrir al Sham, a militant group which used to be part of Al Qaeda.

The province is home to about 3 million people.

President Erdogan said it is unexplainable and can't be seen as fighting terrorism if the Assad regime is targeting civilians and destroying hospitals and schools.

Erdogan also pointed out that these air strikes aim to sabotage Turkish-Russian cooperation over Idlib and harms the soul of Astana process.

Russian and Turkish presidents met in Russia's Sochi on September 17, 2018, and their talks resulted in an agreement to establish a demilitarised zone in Idlib by October 15 of 2018.

Both leaders have confirmed their commitment to the Sochi Memorandum, Erdogan said, so far, significant progress has been made in the implementation of the memorandum, while attacks may harm common interests.

Source: TRT World and Agencies