Turkey condemns Syria’s gas attack, urges Russia over Astana process
Turkish leaders have strongly condemned a deadly gas attack allegedly committed by Syrian government jets near Idlib in northern Syria on April 4 while warning Russia that such attacks threaten the success of the Astana process to monitor a fragile cease-fire reached in late December 2016.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the gas attack on Idlib, Turkish presidential sources said. The attack killed at least 58 people including 11 children under the age of 8, a war monitor and medical workers said.
“President Erdoğan touched on the use of chemical weapons against civilians in Idlib. President Erdoğan said such inhumane attacks are unacceptable,” a statement attributed to presidential sources said.
They said the two leaders had also emphasized the importance of maintaining the ongoing cease-fire in Syria as Erdoğan recalled that such attacks would endanger the Astana process.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also reacted to the attack on April 4. “I strongly condemn the attack. This is a crime against humanity and should be punished,” he told reporters.
“But I am sure the Western world which stood impassive when red lines had been crossed in the past will try to cover up this incident. This is unacceptable for us,” he said, warning that such an attack could derail the Astana process that aims to produce a lasting cease-fire between the regime and the oppositional groups.
The Turkish foreign minister referred to alleged Syria’s use of chemical attacks in mid-2013 against opposition groups which failed to prompt a response by the Western world even though then-U.S. President Barack Obama had said any gas attack would be a “red line” that would result in military intervention against Damascus.
No Syrian people left to decide
Asked about U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s recent remarks that the future of Syria and the role of President Bashar al-Assad would be decided by the Syrian people, Çavuşoğlu said, “Those who advise that Syrian people should decide on the future of Syria should see that there will be no Syrian people left to decide on it.”