Turkish FM urges Russia to abide by Idlib ceasefire

Turkish FM urges Russia to abide by Idlib ceasefire

Turkish FM urges Russia to abide by Idlib ceasefire

This photo provided by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets, which has been authenticated, shows Syrian White Helmet civil defense workers extinguish a burning car that was hit by Syrian government airstrikes, in Idlib province, Jan. 15, 2020. (Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP)

Turkey’s foreign minister on Jan. 22 said the Syrian regime’s attacks in the last rebel-held enclave of Idlib are “unacceptable” and called on Russia to abide by a recent ceasefire brokered by Ankara and Moscow as a guarantor state.

“The [Syrian] regime’s attacks on civilians, without any discrimination, are unacceptable. We expect Russia to commit to the ceasefire’s pledges as the regime’s guarantor,” Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said at the 50th annual meeting of World Economic Forum in Davos.

Russian airstrikes kill 12 civilians in Idlib
Russian airstrikes kill 12 civilians in Idlib

The minister’s remarks came at the “Geopolitical Outlook: The Middle East and North Africa” panel when he was asked about Turkey’s relations with Russia.

Çavuşoğlu also said that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had also voiced concern about Idlib to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at the Jan. 19 Berlin summit on Libya.

But the different perspectives of Ankara and Moscow do not pose an obstacle to cooperate on significant issues, according to the top diplomat. He also added that Turkey is in dialogue with Iran as well concerning matters on Syria.

Stressing that there are many problems in the Middle East such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war in Syria and problems in Libya, Yemen and Iraq, Çavuşoğlu said that Turkey is “actively” showing effort to solve these problems.

‘Haftar main problem in Libya’

On Libya, Çavuşoğlu said that the main issue is the Tobruk-based commander Khalifa Haftar.

“He neither signed the joint declaration in Moscow nor committed to an overt support in Berlin. The legitimate government of [Prime Minister Fayez al-] Sarraj was constructive and declared support,” he said.

Libya players agree to respect arms embargo, push cease-fire
Libya players agree to respect arms embargo, push cease-fire

Regarding the troops Turkey sent to Libya, Çavuşoğlu said only military advisers and trainers are present in the country.

World powers and other countries with interests in Libya’s long-running civil war agreed on Jan. 19 to respect a much-violated arms embargo, hold off on military support to the warring parties and push them to reach a full ceasefire.

Libya has sunk further into chaos since the 2011 ouster and killing of its longtime dictator, Muammar Gaddafi. It is now divided into rival administrations, each backed by different nations: The U.N.-recognized government based in Tripoli, headed by al- Sarraj, and one based in the country’s east, supported by the military commander Haftar’s forces.

Haftar’s forces have been on the offensive since April, laying siege to Tripoli in an effort to capture the capital. Haftar’s forces are backed by Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates, while the Tripoli government has turned to Turkey for troops and weapons.

A truce brokered earlier this month by Russia and Turkey marked the first break in fighting in months, but there have been repeated violations.

Libya's Haftar launches attack, tests peace summit
Libyas Haftar launches attack, tests peace summit