Washington believes Russia, Turkey ‘very close’ to more extensive conflict in Syria

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The United States believes that Russia and Turkey are “very close” to a more extensive conflict in Syria’s Idlib region and hopes they will be able to avoid it, Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman told reporters on Wednesday, according to Sputnik International.

“Our stance in Syria has not changed … there needs to be a political settlement in Syria that will be for the best interests of the Syrian people,” Hoffman said in response to a reporter’s question.

“We are seeing the Russians and the Turks have come very close to having a more extensive conflict in the area. We are hopeful they will find a solution to avoid that,” Hoffman said at the press briefing.

He called on the international community to put extra pressure on Turkey, and more importantly on Syria, to cease their attacks in Idlib and to find a peaceful solution.

Hoffman declined to provide information on specific negotiations on the issue.

In December Syrian government forces launched an offensive to recapture areas of Idlib province, the last remaining rebel stronghold in the country. Tensions in the region escalated further after Syrian forces shelled a Turkish observation post on Feb. 3, killing eight people and prompting a series of retaliatory strikes.

Speaking earlier on Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned that Turkey could launch a military operation in Idlib “at any minute.”

According to the United Nations, almost 900,000 civilians have been forced to flee their homes due to the ongoing military escalation in Syria’s northwest since Dec. 1.

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