Germany urges international efforts to solve Idlib crisis

German Merkel
Germany on Monday warned against a grave humanitarian catastrophe in northwestern Syria amid recent attacks by the regime and its allies, Eurasia Diary reports citing Yeni Safak.

Addressing a conference in Berlin organized by the German armed forces, Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer expressed deep concern over recent clashes and regime attacks targeting civilians in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib.

“How we can prevent a humanitarian catastrophe there, how can we avoid the expulsion of people trapped in this region…these questions have not been satisfactorily answered yet,” she said.

“I believe that this requires an international approach. Therefore it’s good that we, as the E3 countries [Germany, France and the U.K.], will continue our discussions with [Turkish] President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said.

Erdogan met with leaders of Europe’s three major powers, Germany, France and the U.K. in December, ahead of a NATO summit in London, and “E3 Turkey” format summits are expected to continue in the coming months.

Kramp-Karrenbauer’s remarks came after a military escalation in northwestern Syria after Assad regime troops attacked on Monday Turkish soldiers deployed in Idlib to monitor a cease-fire.

At least six military personnel were martyred and seven others injured in intense shelling by Bashar al-Assad regime forces in the region.

Kramp-Karrenbauer, also the leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, had proposed last year an "internationally controlled security zone" in northern Syria, but could not win the support of her coalition partner Social Democrats.

The recent military offensive of the Syrian regime has led to fears of a humanitarian crisis and another refugee influx towards Europe.

Located in northwestern Syria, Idlib province is the stronghold of the opposition and anti-regime armed groups since the outbreak of the civil war in 2011.

It is currently home to some 4 million civilians, including hundreds of thousands displaced in recent years by regime forces across the war-weary country.

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

The Assad regime and its allies, however, have consistently broken the terms of the cease-fire, launching frequent attacks inside the zone, killing at least 1,300 civilians since the agreement.

Almost 1.5 million Syrians have moved near the Turkish border due to intense attacks in recent months.

Russia alleged that Turkey failed to keep to the terms of the agreement and also failed to separate the terrorist rebels from the civilian in the zone.

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and more than 10 million others displaced, according to UN officials.

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