Rockets fired from Syria land in Turkey, no casualties: ministry

Rockets fired from Syria land in Turkey, no casualties: ministry
A border region of southern Turkey was struck with rockets fired from Syria on Thursday, though no casualties were reported.
3 min read
19 March, 2021
Rockets fired from regime-controlled areas in Syria landed in a border region of southern Turkey but caused no injuries or damage, the defence ministry tweeted on Thursday. 

The rockets fell in an empty field in the border province of Kilis, the ministry said. 

Turkey "sent a notification to the RF (Russian Federation) to stop firing and the designated targets were immediately hit back," it added. 

Ankara also put its troops in the region "on alert".  

Turkey and Russia are working for a solution to the conflict in Syria, which marks a decade of civil war, even though they remain on opposite sides. 

Moscow is a major ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad while Ankara backs opposition rebels fighting for his ouster.

In March last year, Turkey and Russia agreed a ceasefire in Syria's north-western Idlib province in order to avert a major escalation.

The agreement came after 36 Turkish soldiers were killed in Idlib during a Russian-backed Syrian government offensive.

Earlier this month, Qatar, Turkey, and Russia's foreign ministers announced a joint effort to end the ten-year war in Syria during a press conference in Doha.

Qatar Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani hosted Russia's Sergey Lavrov and Turkey’s Mevlut Cavusoglu in Doha for talks on the conflict in Syria, which marks its ten year anniversary this month.

Russia and Turkey - along with Iran - have their own mechanism to discuss Syria-related matters - known as the Astana Process - but the new effort looks to widen international cooperation, particularly on humanitarian matters.

"Today we launched a new trilateral consultation process," Cavusoglu said, according to Reuters.

"Our goal is to discuss how we can contribute to efforts towards a lasting political solution in Syria."

While Russia is a key backer of Bashar Al-Assad's regime both Turkey and Qatar have supported the Syrian opposition, leading to the surprise announcement of a joint peace effort.

Russia's foreign minister, who has embarked on a tour of the Gulf region, welcomed the tripartite peace effort.

"I can only welcome Qatar's desire to make its contribution to creating the conditions for overcoming the current tragic situation in Syria," he said, according to the agency.

The foreign ministers issued a joint statement for a political solution to the conflict based on UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and Geneva Communique of 2012 - the international framework for ending the war in Syria.

"The Ministers emphasised their commitment to preserving the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic in accordance with the UN Charter," the statement read.

"[And] expressed their conviction that there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict, and reaffirming their commitment to advancing a political process facilitated by the United Nations to support the Syrian parties to reach a political solution."

The three foreign ministers discussed humanitarian access to Syria, where poverty and the Covid-19 epidemic are creating extreme hardships for Syrians.

"There is a crucial need to lessen the suffering of the Syrians," said Qatar's Sheikh Mohammed.

Russia has been criticised for vetoing aid access to some areas of Syria held by anti-Assad and Kurdish forces. The Moscow-backed Syrian regime has also engaged in "starvation sieges" on opposition territories in Syria.

The three ministers called on the UN and WHO to prioritise Syria with aid and Covid-19 vaccine distribution.

Turkey's foreign minister said Ankara will host the next round of talks on the Syria issue.

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