Duvar English

Turkish Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın met with U.S. Special Envoy for Syria James Jeffrey and an accompanying delegation on Feb. 12 in the capital Ankara.

Following the closed-door meeting that lasted one and a half hours, the Turkish presidency released a statement saying Turkish officials and the U.S. delegation had jointly agreed that the Syrian regime’s attacks on Turkish army’s observation points in Idlib were “unacceptable.”

During the meeting, Kalın highlighted Turkey’s “determination” on protecting Turkish soldiers and civilians as part of Idlib deal, said the presidency.

“[The meeting] highlighted the importance of protection of Idlib deal and expressed the necessity that all countries need to fulfill their responsibilities for the ongoing humanitarian crisis not to worsen,” the statement said.

Both sides agreed that for a “political solution process” to function in the war-struck country, the regime attacks need to stop as soon as possible.

The meeting also highlighted the importance of “the international community’s concrete support” so that the Syrian constitutional process can speed up and a “fair and free election environment” can be ensured.

“It has been emphasized that diplomatic initiations need to be immediately increased in an attempt to prevent the migration wave which turned into a humanitarian tragedy due to the regime’s having increased its attacks against civilians in Idlib,” the statement further said.

Jeffrey arrived in Turkey on Feb. 11 to meet Turkish officials and re-evaluate the recent developments in the region.

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

As part of the deal, Turkey set up 12 observation posts in Idlib, and some of them have been in recent weeks encircled by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The number of Turkish casualties in Idlib has risen to 13 by the latest attack after Syrian artillery fire hit the Turkish troops’ positions at the base town of Taftanaz on Feb. 10, killing five Turkish soldiers and wounding five others. 

Idlib has been a stronghold of the opposition and anti-government armed groups since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011.