International

Erdogan ramps up diplomatic pressure over Syria crisis

He calls for an end to Syrian govt. strikes on rebel-held Idlib

Turkey’s President spoke with two European leaders by phone on Friday and called for an end to a Syrian government offensive on the last rebel stronghold in the country that has displaced hundreds of thousands of people.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s joint telephone call with the heads of France and Germany came amid mounting tensions between Turkey and Russia, which are backing opposing sides in Syria’s civil war.

On Friday, Russian warplanes struck rebel-held areas in northwestern Syria as insurgents and government forces exchanged artillery and mortar fire in other parts of Idlib province, the last rebel stronghold in the country, opposition activists said.

The violence came a day after two Turkish soldiers were killed in an airstrike in Idlib after an attack by Ankara-backed opposition forces that targeted Syrian government troops. The deaths came after Mr. Erdogan threatened to expand his nation’s involvement in Syria if another one of his troops were hurt.

The Turkish leader told French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel that “the Syrian regime and its backers’ aggression in Idlib must be stopped,” according to a statement from Mr. Erdogan’s office.

It followed a similar call by Ms. Merkel and Mr. Macron to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, during which they proposed urgent talks with Mr. Erdogan to ease tensions.

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 8:13:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/erdogan-ramps-up-diplomatic-pressure-over-syria-crisis/article30883205.ece

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