Turkey’s president has said that his country does not want a bloodbath in Idlib province and a ceasefire would be an important step amid looming Russian-backed Syrian offensive in the last rebel-held area.
Speaking at a three-way summit in Tehran with his Iranian and Russian counterparts – both major allies of the Syrian government – Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed that an attack on Idlib would result in a massacre and a disaster.
“If we can ensure a ceasefire here, this will be one of the most important steps of the summit, it will seriously put civilians at ease,” he said.
“We need to find a rational solution in Idlib that will address everyone’s concerns.”
The northwest province of Idlib borders Turkey, which has closed its borders after taking in more than three million Syrian refugees. Ankara, which has the most to lose should an offensive take place, has been trying to negotiate with opposition armed groups, including al-Qaeda-linked Hay’et Tahrir al-Sham.
“A decision on Idlib will shape the region and you must appreciate our position as we begin to help our Syrian brothers,” Erdogan said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin however, said that he was against a ceasefire because Nusra Front and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters located there were not part of peace talks.
Putin said the Syrian government should regain control over all of its territory.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Russian President Vladimir Putin were “speaking from both sides of their mouths” during their opening statements.
The comments made by Putin and Rouhani made it very clear that they were looking forward to shape Syria’s future and they can do it without the intervention of western powers.
But at the same time they made it clear that rebuilding Syria and getting refugees back to Syria has to be an international effort.