Turkey summons Russia, Iran ambassadors as Syria violates agreement

Turkey summons Russia, Iran ambassadors as Syria violates agreement
Ankara has called the Russian and Iranian envoys hoping to relay a message to Syria as troops advance in a violation of the de-escalation agreement.
2 min read
10 January, 2018
Syrian regime forces, backed by Russian airstrikes, have re-captured nearly 100 villages [Getty]

Turkey has summoned the Russian and Iranian ambassador, said a Turkish government official on Tuesday, to complain about recent Syrian government advances.

Turkey voiced its concern over the regime advances being made in the northern Syrian province Idlib, said the official, which violate the de-escalation agreement made between Ankara, Moscow and Tehran.

The official added, on condition of anonymity to AP, that the ambassadors were informed that the violation must end immediately, and to relay that information to the Syrian regime.

Mevlut Cabusoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, had accused the Syrian governmental forces earlier of targeting moderate opposition fighters under the guise of fighting extremists, adding that such a move threatened the peace talks scheduled to take place later this month in Russia.

Turkey, a supporter of the rebels, has deployed military observers in Idlib as part of a de-escalation deal with Iran and Russia but that has not stopped fighting on the ground or Russian airstrikes.

In the past two months a Russian air offensive has helped capture 80 towns and villages in the nearby Hama province and breached Idlib for the first time since mid-2015.

Syrian regime forces captured 14 villages on Monday as part of an offensive on the largest rebel-held enclave.

Since the start of Syria's war in 2011, numerous diplomatic attempts to halt the conflict have stumbled, mainly over the future of President Bashar al-Assad.

Turkey, Russia and Iran have taken the lead in Syria peace efforts. Moscow has spearheaded the talks in Astana over the last year as it tries to turn its game-changing military intervention into a negotiated settlement.

Despite backing opposing sides, relations between Moscow and Ankara have warmed since the failed coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016.

The Syrian conflict began when the Baath regime, in power since 1963 and led by Assad, responded with military force to peaceful protests demanding democratic reforms during the Arab Spring wave of uprisings, triggering an armed rebellion fuelled by mass defections from the Syrian army.

The brutal tactics pursued mainly by the regime, which have included the use of chemical weapons, sieges, mass executions and torture against civilians have led to war crimes investigations.