Turkish Defense Minister: Syrian forces must stop attacks in northwest Syria

Syria
A member of the Free Syrian Army gestures as he stands on a tank after they captured the military Brigade 52 base in Daraa, Syria June 9, 2015. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Faqir

TURKEY (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Turkish government forces should stop attacks in northwestern Syria, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Friday.

The Syrian army, supported by a Russian air force, launched ground operations this week on the southern flank of an opposition area that includes Idlib and parts of neighboring provinces.

The Turkish minister said that Syrian forces should return to areas mentioned in the international agreement reached in Kazakhstan to reduce the fighting.

“Humanitarian problems are growing every day and showing an increasing tendency to become a disaster.”

He said the attacks also posed a threat to the security of Turkish observation posts in northwestern Syria, where Turkey is conducting security patrols.

“We expect Russia to take effective and decisive action to make the regime’s forces stop its attacks on southern Idlib and return immediately to the borders of the Astana agreement,” the Turkish minister said.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Verchinen said on Thursday that the operation was a response to terrorists in the region and that its implementation was being carried out “in coordination with our Turkish partners.”

At a closed-door meeting on Friday, the UN Security Council was briefed on the situation in northwestern Syria. Later, 11 of the 15 council members, including the United States, France and Britain, condemned the killing of civilians and warned of a possible humanitarian disaster in Idlib.

“We are disturbed by the displacement of more than 150,000 people and the targeting of population centers and civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and schools,” Belgian UN Ambassador Mark Beckenstein told reporters on behalf of the 11 countries.

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