EU states urge Russia, Syrian regime to stop Idlib attacks

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More than a dozen of EU member states urged Russia and the Syrian regime on Wednesday to stop military attacks in the Idlib de-escalation zone, and recommit themselves to a 2018 cease-fire agreement.

Foreign ministers from 14 EU member states wrote a joint op-ed for German news portal t-online.de and warned of an imminent humanitarian catastrophe in northwestern Syria.

"We call on the Syrian regime and its supporters to end this military offensive and to comply with the cease-fire agreed in autumn 2018," the ministers said, amid ongoing airstrikes and shelling that claimed more than 1,800 lives since the cease-fire agreement.

The top diplomats condemned attacks that targeted hospitals, schools, and civilian residences in Idlib, the last opposition stronghold, where acts of aggression are prohibited under the 2018 deal.

"We call on them to immediately stop fighting, and fulfill their obligations under international humanitarian law," they stressed.

Nearly 4 million civilians have been trapped in the war zone due the recent offensive by the Assad regime, with the support of Russia and Iranian-backed forces in the region. Over a million have flocked towards the Turkish border.

In their joint op-ed, the officials also voiced support for talks between Ankara and Moscow for a solution to the current crisis.

"We further call on Russia to continue talks with Turkey to address the grave situation in Idlib and to contribute to a political solution."

They also underlined their commitment to support efforts for fighting terrorist groups in northwestern Syria.

The joint call was signed by the foreign ministers of Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Sweden, Finland, Ireland, Denmark, Estonia, and Lithuania.

In September 2018, Turkey and Russia agreed to turn the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.

But the regime and its allies, including the Iranian-backed forces, have consistently broken the terms of the cease-fire, launching frequent attacks inside the territory.

Turkey has called for the cease-fire to be followed, and warned that if the attacks do not stop, it would not hesitate ta take a military action.

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