NATO calls on Russia, Syrian regime to halt offensive in Idlib after extraordinary meeting
ANKARA - Anadolu Agency
All NATO member states expressed solidarity with Turkey in the wake of the deadly Assad regime attack in Idlib, northwestern Syria that killed 33 Turkish soldiers and wounded dozens, said the alliance’s chief.
"The NATO allies offer the deepest condolences for the death of Turkish soldiers in [the] last bombing in Idlib and express full solidarity with Turkey,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told in a press conference after an emergency alliance meeting in Brussels.
The allies also "condemn the continued indiscriminate airstrikes by the Syrian regime and Russia in Idlib province," said Stoltenberg, calling on them "to stop their offensive to respect international law and to back UN-led efforts for a peaceful solution."
NATO has already provided political and practical support to Turkey and the allies are looking to make further contributions, he stressed.
"This dangerous situation must be deescalated to avoid further worsening of the horrendous humanitarian situation in the region, and to allow urgent humanitarian access for those trapped in Idlib. We urge an immediate return to the 2018 cease-fire," he said.
He decried the situation in Idlib, south of the Turkish border, saying: "We have seen bombing of civilian targets, we have seen increased humanitarian suffering and hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes."
The "allies will continue to follow developments on the South-eastern border of NATO very closely," he concluded.
Stoltenberg added that the member countries are looking into providing further support for Turkey.
UN top diplomat reiterates call for ceasefire
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Feb. 27 reiterated his call for an "immediate ceasefire" in northwestern Syria following a deadly airstrike by Syrian regime forces on Turkish troops in Idlib province.
In a statement, the secretary-general's spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said Guterres is monitoring the escalation in the region and reports of fallen Turkish soldiers with "grave concern.”
Guterres "expresses particular concern about the risk to civilians from escalating military actions," said Dujarric. "Without urgent action, the risk of even greater escalation grows by the hour."
He said there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict.
"The only sustainable solution is a UN-facilitated political process pursuant to Security Council resolution 2254 (2015)," said Dujarric, referring to an endorsed roadmap for a peace process in Syria.
US calls for end to Syrian regime's offensive
The U.S. voiced solidarity with its NATO ally Turkey, calling for an "immediate end" to the Bashar al-Assad regime's offensive on northwestern Syria's Idlib province following deadly attacks.
"We stand by our NATO Ally Turkey and continue to call for an immediate end to this despicable offensive by the Assad regime, Russia and Iranian-backed forces," a State Department spokesperson speaking on condition of anonymity told Anadolu Agency.
"As the President and the Secretary have said, we are looking at options on how we can best support Turkey in this crisis," the spokesperson added.
EU rapporteur 'very sorry' over killed troops
The EU Parliament's Turkey rapporteur expressed sorrow over Turkish soldiers killed in an airstrike by the Bashar al-Assad regime forces in Idlib.
"Very sorry for the loss of TK soldiers lives and deeply concerned about recent developments around #Turkey #Idlib and #Refugees," Nacho Sanchez Amor said on Twitter.
"EU is far reliable" ally, Amor said, calling on Turkey to abandon what he called “unilateralism".
According to UN officials, some 900,000 people have been displaced by the offensive carried out by the Bashar al-Assad regime backed by Russia since December.
At least 33 Turkish troops were killed in the airstrike, according to Governor Rahmi Doğan of Hatay province in southern Turkey.
Ankara has vowed to retaliate against the “illegitimate” Syrian regime in the wake of the attack.
Following the airstrike, the U.S. expressed concern over the reported deaths of the soldiers.
"We stand by our NATO Ally Turkey and continue to call for an immediate end to this despicable offensive by the Assad regime, Russia and Iranian-backed forces,” a State Department spokesperson speaking on condition of anonymity told Anadolu Agency.