UNITED NATIONS, February 14. /TASS/. United Nations calls on Syria, Turkey and Russia to take steps towards de-escalation of the situation in Syria’s Idlib in order to ensure humanitarian access to this region in light of the recent aggravation, St·phane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General, said on Friday.
"Our message is clear. We are pushing for de-escalation and looking for ways not to increase the violence, not to increase fighting, to lead to a ceasefire so that we could get the humanitarian aid into Idlib," he said when asked by TASS to comment on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent statements about Russia’s alleged actions in Syria.
Erdogan claimed on Wednesday the Russian and Syrian government forces were targeting civilians in the Idlib governorate rather than terrorists. Ankara, in his words, will no longer "put up with any ceasefire violations in Idlib." Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in response that Russia rejected such accusations and stressed that Turkey’s allegations about attacks in the Idlib de-escalation zone were not true.
The situation in Idlib deteriorated after the Russian and Turkish taskforces had made another attempt in January to impose a ceasefire. Terrorists only intensified their attacks instead, killing Russian and Turkish military specialists. The Syrian government army took retaliatory actions against extremists and gained control of the city of Saraqib near Idlib.
Apart from that, Turkish soldiers twice came under shelling by the Syrian army, on February 3 and 10. In retaliation, the Turkish military delivered strikes at more than 120 targets in Idlib.
Idlib is the only large Syrian region that is still controlled by illegal armed groups. A norther de-escalation zone was set up in Idlib in 2017 to give shelter to militants and their families who were reluctant to voluntarily surrender arms in Eastern Ghouta and in Syria’s southern regions. Twelve Turkish observation outposts are operating in the Idlib governorate.