Turkey wants Idlib to be part of de-conflict zones in Syria
ANKARAIdlib, a northern Syrian town under the control of various rebel groups, should also be declared a de-conflict zone, a Turkish presidential spokesman has said, just a day before the Syrian regime and opposition groups as well as Turkey, Russia and Iran are set to come together in the Kazakh capital Astana to discuss continued ceasefire across Syria.
“The Astana process will start tomorrow [Sept. 15]. This is an important process. Our objective is the implementation of a ceasefire in the whole of Syria but particularly in four de-conflict zones. The details on this issue will be discussed there,” Presidential Spokesman İbrahim Kalın told reporters at a press conference on Sept. 14.
“Our expectation is the declaration of Idlib as a de-conflict zone. Turkey will do whatever necessary if there is a role it can play,” Kalın added.
His statements came just a day before the start of the 6th round of the Astana talks where the Syrian regime and the representatives of the opposition groups will come together. The process had begun early 2017 after Turkey and Russia initiated a truce in Syria, which was later joined by Iran. Kalın stressed the Astana process was complementary to the Geneva process and was aiming not only on expanding the ceasefire but also delivering humanitarian aid to Syrians.
Idlib, bordering Turkey, has been under the control of various rebel groups since this summer. There are growing concerns that a military operation against these groups in Idlib can be executed either by Russian-Syrian partnership or by the anti-Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) coalition with the participation of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) based in the Afrin canton.
Turkey has long been voicing its commitment not to allow YPG troops to move further west of Syria , who are in a bid to establish a corridor from Kobane until the Mediterranean Sea. Turkey has been steadily reinforcing its military presence along its Syrian border to avoid such move by the YPG, a group Ankara considers a terror organization.
“The mobilization on the border is part of measures we have to take given the situation in our geography,” Kalın told reporters, recalling that Turkey has urged all parties that it will never allow the establishment of a terror corridor along its borders.
Trump, Erdoğan to meet in New York
Kalın also informed that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and U.S. President Donald Trump have agreed to hold a face-to-face meeting in New York next week on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly. Among issues to be discussed will be recent accusations against former Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan, Kalın recalled, describing both actions as politically driven.