Turkish FM discusses Syria with US counterpart on phone

Turkish FM discusses Syria with US counterpart on phone

Turkish FM discusses Syria with US counterpart on phone

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke over the phone about the latest situation in Syria’s Idlib province, a Turkish diplomatic source said Sept. 18.

Çavuşoğlu and Pompeo discussed an agreement between Turkey and Russia to establish a demilitarized zone in Idlib, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.

Çavuşoğlu also held phone conversations with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian, German counterpart Heiko Maas and EU Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherini, according to Turkish diplomatic sources.

Following a meeting in the Russian city of Sochi between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, the two countries agreed Monday to establish a demilitarized zone in Idlib, Syria’s last opposition stronghold.

US to not contribute to rebuilding Syria

Meanwhile, the U.S. stressed that it would not contribute to rebuilding efforts in Syria with U.S. Special Envoy James Jeffrey telling the council the Assad regime "will get no help to rebuild, certainly not from us."

"I can’t imagine that any other government would want to explain to its people why they would send aid to the barbaric Assad regime," he said.

Jeffrey called for all involved in the Syria conflict "to commit to a lasting cease-fire and to take immediate steps to advance the Geneva peace process further. Again, the only way forward is a genuine and inclusive political solution."

Ankara and Moscow also signed a memorandum of understanding calling for the “stabilization” of Idlib's de-escalation zone, in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.

According to the MoU, opposition groups in Idlib will remain in areas in which they are already present while Russia and Turkey will conduct joint patrols in the area with a view to preventing renewed fighting.

Located near the Turkish border, Idlib province is home to more than 3 million Syrians, many of whom fled from other cities following attacks by regime forces.

The Syrian regime had announced plans last month to launch a major military offensive in the area, which has long been controlled by various armed opposition groups.

The UN warned that such an offensive would lead to the "worst humanitarian catastrophe in the 21st century".

UN welcomes Turkey-Russia agreement

A UN representative for Syria on Sept. 18 praised the agreement reached between Russia and Turkey.

"We hope that this agreement is expeditiously implemented," Steffan de Mistura, the UN's special envoy for Syria, told the Security Council. "I thank Presidents [Vladimir] Putin and [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan for their personal engagement."

De Mistura urged all parties to the Syrian conflict "to refrain from military actions" that could derail the agreement.

"What do we think the 3 million civilians, including those million children kettled there, make of yesterday's agreement?" he asked. "Well, they have a simple question. Is this merely a stay of execution? Or is it the beginning of a reprieve, the first tiny glint of light at the very end of the darkest tunnel?"

Turkey to reinforce troop deployments in Idlib after Sochi deal: Turkish FM
Turkey to reinforce troop deployments in Idlib after Sochi deal: Turkish FM

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