Turkey urged Russia and Iran to influence Syrian President Bashar Assad to stop the offensive in the province of Idlib. Ankara is worried that the fighting may lead to a new flow of refugees across its southern border, as expressed by Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, the Turkish Foreign Minister, on Wednesday, January 10th in an interview with Anadolu.
According to Çavuşoğlu, the offensive in Idlib contradicts joint agreements on the establishment of a de-escalation zone in the only province of Syria that remains under the control of non-governmental forces. The guarantors of the zone are Moscow and Tehran, who support Assad, as well as Ankara, which provides assistance to the units of the moderate Syrian opposition. "Russia and Iran must honor their commitments and stop the Assad regime," Çavuşoğlu stressed. The day before Ankara's position was voiced to the ambassadors of Russia and Iran, who were summoned to the Turkish Foreign Ministry.
The Syrian army and its supporters recently launched an offensive against the rebel positions in Idlib. On Sunday, January 7th, as a result of air strikes in the north-east of the province, at least 21 civilians were killed. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) assigned responsibility for the incident to the Syrian and Russian air forces. In addition, according to the UN, since the beginning of January, as a result of shelling from the ground and air in the besieged enclave of East Ghouta, which is included in one of the de-escalation zone, 85 civilians were killed, Reuters reported.