Duvar English/Anadolu Agency

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russia to cease their attacks in Idlib, saying that the issue is expected to be raised at an upcoming defense ministers meeting.

“We have seen indiscriminate shelling of also civilian targets, and we condemn this because we condemn indiscriminate attacks against civilians,” Stoltenberg told reporters on Feb. 11 ahead of a NATO defense ministers meeting starting Feb. 12.

“I’m very concerned about the situation in Idlib, because we have seen horrendous attacks against civilians. We have seen, again, that hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee,” he added.

“We call on Assad and on Russia, because Russia provides support to the regime, to stop these attacks, to respect international law and to fully support the UN efforts to try to find a peaceful solution,” Stoltenberg also said.

In September 2018, Russia, Turkey and Russia agreed to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.

Stoltenberg’s call echoed concerns raised by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has condemned Assad attacks ob Turkish troops stationed there under a de-escalation pact with Russia.

Erdoğan has also urged Russia, Assad’s ally, to live up to the Astana and Sochi peace processes for Syria and do more to bring the attacks to a halt.

On Feb. 10, five Turkish troops were killed and five more wounded in shelling by Syrian forces in Idlib.