Trump praises Turkey's efforts to prevent humanitarian disaster in Syria's Idlib
As hailing Turkey's effort to prevent a humanitarian disaster in northern region of war-torn Syria, US President Donald Trump stressed in Tuesday's comments that his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan did not want hundreds of thousands of Syrian people to be killed in Idlib region.
"Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is seeking to ensure a humanitarian catastrophe does not befall northwest Syria's Idlib province," U.S. President Donald Trump said Tuesday.
"He's fighting on Idlib," Trump told reporters before boarding Air Force One. "He doesn't want people to be killed by the thousands, and hundreds of thousands."
Trump said Washington and Ankara are working together to determine what can be done amid a Syrian regime offensive backed by Russia and Iran that the UN said has led to the displacement of 900,000 people already.
"You have a lot of warring going on right now, a lot of warring going on, but I am dealing with President Erdoğan," Trump said.
Mark Lowcock, the UN's humanitarian affairs chief, said Monday that indiscriminate violence in the region reached "a horrifying new level" since the regime offensive began in December and he demanded the Security Council to take action to avoid catastrophe of historical proportions.
"The biggest humanitarian horror story of the 21st Century will only be avoided if Security Council members, and those with influence, overcome individual interests and put a collective stake in humanity first. The only option is a ceasefire," he said.
In September 2018, Turkey and Russia agreed to turn Idlib province into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.
But since more than 1,800 civilians have been killed in attacks by regime and Russian forces, flouting the 2018 cease-fire and a new one that started Jan. 12.
Syrian regime's advances have sent hundreds of thousands of civilians fleeing toward the border with Turkey, which already hosts more than 3.7 million refugees.