Continuation of cease-fire, ensuring stability in region important, says Turkey’s national defense minister
ANKARA (AA) – Turkey adhered to principles of Syria’s Idlib agreement with Russia and expected Moscow to “commit to their responsibilities” under the agreement, Turkey’s top official told reporters following a Cabinet meeting on Monday.
Idlib falls within a de-escalation zone established by an agreement between Turkey and Russia. The area has been the subject of multiple cease-fire understandings, which have frequently been violated by the Syrian regime and its allies.
When asked about the recent increase in airstrikes in northern Syria, National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said he “might” discuss the issue with his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoygu.
“They (Russian side) say they are carrying out these attacks ‘against the terrorist groups there’. However, there are no terrorists among those who died or fled as a result of these attacks. We’ve been trying to explain this for months,” Akar said.
He said Turkey has done everything that needed to be done “with great effort” on the Idlib issue.
Akar emphasized that the attacks triggered migration and increased radicalization in the region.
“Turkey no longer tolerates additional immigration. Everyone knows this… The continuation of the cease-fire and ensuring stability are important. People returned to their lands in northern Syria voluntarily and safely to the areas under the control of the Turkish Armed Forces, with dignity, and with no force,” he said.
The minister highlighted that over 400,000 of them are in the Idlib region, with a total of more than one million people returning to their homes and lands.
In response to a question about the two countries’ regional coordination, Akar said: “There is a very serious mechanism there. Both the Russian and Turkish sides continue to work on this issue.”
Communication channels with Russian officials in the region are well established, he added.
“Our wish is that the tranquility at the beginning of the memorandum of understanding will be restored with the meeting of our President (Recep Tayyip Erdogan) with (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, and the parties will make the necessary contribution to make the cease-fire permanent as soon as possible. This is a suitable course of action for everyone,” Akar said.
Recalling that Turkey has memorandums of understanding with both Russia and the US on the issues concerning the east of the Euphrates, Akar said despite the agreement on flushing out terrorists from the area, “unfortunately, the presence of terrorists there still continues.”
“While we show all kinds of good intentions, we also take all kinds of precautions,” he said.
Akar stressed that Turkey respects the border security and sovereignty of all its neighbors, especially Iraq and Syria.
“Our most fundamental duty is the safety of our borders and our noble nation. We will not allow any risk, threat, or danger for us in our south region,” Akar added.