Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Tuesday that a so-called de-escalation zone in Syria’s Idlib region is slowly disappearing because of military attacks by government forces, Reuters reported.
Erdoğan also said he would make all necessary contact with parties in the region to find a solution to the Idlib situation, adding that a Syria safe zone which he has proposed to host Syrians fleeing the war is now nothing more than a name.
“Idlib is slowly disappearing, just like Aleppo did. We can’t stay silent in the face of this,” Erdoğan told a news conference in Ankara.
Idlib, in Syria’s northwest corner, is the only big chunk of the country still in rebel hands after more than eight years of war. A truce in early August collapsed three days in, after which the Russian-backed Syrian army pressed an offensive and gained ground against rebel forces, some of whom are backed by Turkey.
Turkey, Russia and Iran agreed in 2017 to the Idlib zone to reduce fighting, although the terms were never made public and the deal did not include jihadist groups.
On Saturday the US Central Command, part of the Department of Defense, said US forces struck an al-Qaeda facility in Idlib in an attack aimed at the organization’s leadership.
Erdoğan said Idlib would be the most important issue during his meeting with US President Donald Trump as part of the United Nations General Assembly later in September.
A proposed safe area in northern Syria to host Syrians fleeing the war and also refugees living in Turkey is nothing more than a name right now, Erdoğan said. The idea was not supported by some allies, he said.
“The safe zone is nothing more than a name right now. Some assaults and threats are being made in the southern part of it, but we are taking all the necessary steps,” Erdoğan said.