Erdoğan, Trump agree on additional steps to avoid 'humanitarian tragedy' in Syria's Idlib region
Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan and U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday discussed developments in Syria's Idlib, where 33 Turkish soldiers were martyred in an attack by Russian-backed regime forces. Two leaders agreed by phone on the need to take additional steps to deal with the humanitarian drama in Idlib, where nearly 1 million people have been displaced.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his US counterpart Donald Trump agreed in a phone call on Friday on steps to avoid a "humanitarian tragedy" in northern Syria after the killing of 33 soldiers in a regime attack, the Turkish presidency said.
"The two leaders agreed on additional steps without delay in order to avert a big humanitarian tragedy unfolding in the Idlib region," it said in a statement.
Trump expressed condolences in call with Erdoğan, condemned Syria regime attack on Turkish troops in Syria's Idlib.
Erdoğan told Trump that Turkey had delivered the necessary response to the perpetrators of the "despicable attack aimed at our heroic soldiers" and reiterated Ankara's determination to clear "regime elements" from areas in Idlib covered by a ceasefire agreement signed by Ankara and Moscow in 2018, it said.
Roughly 900,000 civilians have been displaced since the Syrian regime began its offensive on Idlib province with the assistance of Russian air power and Iranian-backed forces in December.
Late Thursday, at least 33 Turkish soldiers were martyred and tens of others injured in an airstrike by Assad regime forces in Idlib, just across Turkey's southern border.
The Turkish soldiers are working to protect local civilians under a September 2018 deal with Russia under which acts of aggression are prohibited in the region.
But more than 1,300 civilians have been killed in attacks by Assad and Russian forces in the zone since then, as the cease-fire continues to be violated.
Thursday's attack was one of a series since January on Turkish troops, with Turkish officials keeping their pledge that such assaults would not go unanswered.
The de-escalation zone is currently home to 4 million civilians, including hundreds of thousands displaced in recent years by regime forces throughout the war-torn country.
More than 1.7 million Syrians have moved near the Turkish border due to intense attacks.
Since the eruption of the Syria conflict in 2011, Turkey has taken in some 3.7 million Syrians who fled their country, making it the world's top refugee-hosting country.